Republican John Tobia backs Democrat Rehwinkel Vasilinda for FSU president

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Melbourne Beach Republican Rep. John Tobia gave his “enthusiastic and unequivocal” support of state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda in her bid to be the next Florida State University president.

The endorsement stands out as coming from across the political aisle, while presumptive front-runner — Republican state Sen. John Thrasher – brought in several letters of support to the FSU search committee.

As of Monday, there are 16 people applying for the job. Rehwinkel Vasilinda serves with Tobia on the both the Energy & Utilities and the Finance & Tax subcommittees. In his letter, Tobia praised his House colleague for being a “public servant” instead of “a politician,” calling her “logical,” “not highly partisan,” has “demonstrated mastery of the legislative process,” offering “a well-honed ethical compass.”

“I have every confidence Michelle has the tools to make FSU one of the greatest universities in the United States,” Tobia said.

The FSU search committee had scheduled an exclusive interview with Thrasher on Wednesday.

After the invite to Thrasher had gone out, both Rehwinkel Vasilinda and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston put their names in for consideration.

The committee now expects to reset the application process and enact a timeline to fill the FSU position.

Since April 2, FSU Provost Garnett Stokes has acted as interim president after Eric Barron shocked the community by stepping down to take a similar position at Penn State University.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.