Sen. JD Alexander ended up voting against SB 2040, the immigration crackdown bill that Senate President Mike Haridopolos dropped on his lap three weeks ago and cleared the Senate on Thursday.
"I should have probably voted for it," Alexander, R-Lake Wales, told reporters Friday morning. "The reality is, I just didn't like that whole set of issues….I probably shouldn't have left members hanging and voted with them. I think it's good policy that we put forward; I hope the House will take it."
The House, however, has been sitting on the tougher HB 7089, waiting to see the Senate's actions. And Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart and the House bill sponsor, has said the effort is essentially dead with less than two days left in the legislative session.
"I don't know that I want to see their bill," Alexander said of the House. "Their bill would go further than I would be comfortable."
The powerful budget chief noted Thursday's vote is the one of the only times he's differed with Haridopolos.
"As I got into it more and more, I got more and more uncomfortable with it," Alexander said. "I didn't feel morally I could make that choice. It became not a political issue but a moral issue."
He ended up with the bill, he suggested, because as a citrus grower, "I probably know more about the reality of these issues than anybody else on the floor."
And Alexander praised Haridopolos for allowing senators to vote their will on immigration.
"I think that's leadership and not just pure politics," he said.