Ray Sansom strode past the Choctaw High cheerleaders and his noisy admirers, a humble hometown hero glowing amid all the accolades.
It was Nov. 13 — five days before Sansom would become speaker of the Florida House, and the Okaloosa County Fairgrounds was packed with 500 people. They wore "Congratulations Ray!" stickers and waved flags. They ate barbecue and banana pudding.
"I hope that after these two years — these tough two years — that you will still welcome me back," Sansom said to laughter, before giving thanks to the "rock" and "foundation" of the close-knit Panhandle.
The scene, captured in a Northwest Florida Daily News video, conveys deep warmth and great expectations. Rep. Ray Sansom was, in every sense, a man in full.