Sen. Paula Dockery, the Lakeland Republican, who opposed the state purchase of land for the SunRail commuter line said she expects the president and vice president will arrive in Tampa on Thursday to announce that Florida has won a bid to get federal money to finance it's high speed rail.
And, she added, it will become clear that "the special session last month had nothing to do with it.''
"Florida has had the strongest high speed rail application in the nation and we were going to get it anyway,'' Dockery said, after speaking to the Capital City Tiger Bay Club on Friday. "That's why there was a rush to have the special session -- to say that if we don't do this we aren't going to get it, because if we got it there would be no impetus to have SunRail come up...They're trying to confuse the issue."
She said her conclusion is not based on inside information but was an educated guess. Dockery said that the fact that Amtrak may back out of the state agreement could sink the SunRail deal, thereby proving that the special session "was a very clever forced crisis that didn't exist to justify getting 160 legislators up to Tallahassee to pass something.''
Dockery said she will probably not attend the Obama announcement "because I've got a limited amount of time'' for her to campaign for governor before the legislative session begins. But she urged Gov. Charlie Crist to attend.
"He has very publicly stated his desire for it so I would think, as the governor of this state, if the president is announcing money for the state, he probably has at least a courtesy obligation to be there," she said.