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Politics

Backroom Briefing: Inaugural Events Offer Slices of Celebration

January 3, 2019 - 11:45am
Florida's Old Capitol building
Florida's Old Capitol building

From a pizza party to a “cocktail chic” reception at the Florida State University football stadium, inaugural events next week in the capital city will honor women, veterans and, mostly, Florida’s statewide elected officials.

Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis and members of the next Cabinet --- returning Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried and Attorney General-elect Ashley Moody --- will be formally sworn into their jobs during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Tuesday on the steps of the Old Capitol.

But with the transitions underway since election recounts were put to bed in November, celebrations will start Monday when the DeSantis team holds a breakfast at the Goodwood Museum in Tallahassee.

Some events --- funded by donations and sponsorships and through the state parties --- will include DeSantis and members of the Cabinet. Others are just for individual Cabinet members.

“DeSantis has been very open to working with us,” said Ben Pollara, one of Fried’s inaugural committee chairs.

The Monday breakfast will, according to DeSantis’ inaugural committee, recognize Lt. Gov.-elect Jeanette Nuñez as the highest-ranking Hispanic woman elected in Florida history and “honor the many strong women who made the campaign possible and celebrate the important leadership role women will play in the DeSantis-Nuñez Administration.”

DeSantis will address a lunch crowd Monday at the University Center Club at Florida State University, which will be followed by an afternoon event honoring the military and law enforcement at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum.

Monday night, the Republican Party of Florida is putting on a party at downtown Tallahassee’s Deck Pizza Pub for Patronis, who won a four-year term in the Nov. 6 election after being appointed in 2017 by Gov. Rick Scott.

Meanwhile, Fried, the lone Democrat to win statewide, will hold an event at Doak Campbell Stadium for her “Growing a Stronger Florida” inaugural celebration. Participants in the night’s soiree are advised to dress “cocktail chic.”

“Democrats across the state have something to celebrate,” Pollara and Jenni Shaffren, Fried’s other inaugural committee chair, said in a joint release. “It is the first time in over 20 years that we have elected a Democratic commissioner of agriculture and we don't want you to miss out on the festivities.”

Events Tuesday will begin with an 8 a.m. prayer breakfast at Florida A&M University, followed by the swearing-in ceremony outside the Old Capitol.

Fried, Moody and Patronis are expected to hold open houses in their first-floor Capitol offices.

Meanwhile, DeSantis will address House and Senate leaders and Cabinet officials during a luncheon in the Capitol’s fourth- floor rotunda.

Finally, Florida’s 46th Governor’s Inaugural Ball will be held Tuesday night at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, with DeSantis’ inaugural committee saying it “will be an evening of celebration, dancing and fellowship enjoyed by Floridians united by the goal of bettering our state for generations to come.”

FLORIDA GEN XERS TAKE OVER

With the departure of Scott to the U.S. Senate, native-born Floridians of the Gen X age group will be fully in control of the governor’s mansion and the Cabinet.

Scott, 66, is the last of the Baby Boomers --- those born roughly between 1946 and 1964 --- to hold statewide elected office in Tallahassee.

DeSantis, born in 1978 in Jacksonville, is at 40 the youngest member of the group that will be inaugurated Tuesday.

Nuñez comes in at 46, having been born in 1972 in Miami.

Generation X, roughly defined as being born in the period from 1965 to the late 1970s or early 1980s, was described in Vanity Fair as being “caught between vast, self-regarding waves of boomers and millennials” and being “steeped in irony, detachment, and a sense of dread,” which is good because “this attitude makes it the best suited to preserve American tradition in these dark new days.”

Fried, 41, was born in Miami in 1977, while Moody 43, was born in Plant City in 1975. Patronis, 46, born in 1972 in Panama City, is the elder statesman of the next Cabinet.

Patronis is the only returning member of the Cabinet, where outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi is 53 and outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is 44.

Scott was born in 1952 in Bloomington, Ill.

Also, both legislative chambers are being run for the next two years by Gen Xers. Senate President Bill Galvano, 52, of Bradenton, was born in 1966, and House Speaker Jose Oliva, 45, was born in 1973.

Neither Republican legislative leader can claim to be a native of the Sunshine State. Galvano lists Liberty, N.Y., as his place of birth, while Oliva was born in Elizabeth, N.J.

FRIENDS OF THE ARTS

Democratic House members Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna Eskamani, a pair of progressive firebrands from Orlando, are taking their push for increased state funding for arts and culture to social media.

The lawmakers plan to host a town-hall event Jan. 15 at the Orlando Repertory Theatre that will also be streamed on Facebook.

Smith pointed to cuts last year by the Legislature in the state Division of Cultural Affairs and the economic return of money invested in arts.

“It’s more important now than ever before to come together as a community to discuss the impact of these actions on our local economy and prioritize a plan of action to reinstate funding during Florida’s 2019 legislative session,” Smith said.

Eskamani said arts can help bridge gaps across class and culture.

“When I lost my mom to cancer at age 13, it was the arts that gave me a safe space to learn and grow,” Eskamani said. “Art is a powerful platform that instills values and translates experiences across space and time.”

TWEET OF THE WEEK: “While much work remains, it has been deeply gratifying to be part of such a tremendous effort to serve not only Florida’s agriculture industry, but all Floridians. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the opportunity.” --- outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (@adamputnam).

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