Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, was officially appointed as the incoming Republican Leader of the Florida House of Representatives for 2014 on Monday.
If, as expected, Republicans etain their majority in the 120-member House in 2014, Crisafulli will be the state’s next House Speaker, occupying one of the most powerful positions in state government.
“It is an honor for me to be a small part of this ceremony, and a special day for a very close friend,” said current House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
Crisafulli was chosen for the post a week after last year’s election, when designated Speaker-in-waiting Rep. Chris Dorworth (R-Lake Mary) was defeated in a shocking upset.
As speaker-designate, Crisafulli will play a major role raising money and getting Republicans elected in 2014.
“No one who’s blessed with this opportunity gets here on his own,” said Crisafulli, in a speech where he thanked a slew of people and got emotional at times.
Crisafulli, whose occupation is listed as a real estate broker and a agribusinessman, said he hadn’t given running for public office a thought but got a call a few years ago from Sen. Thad Altman and a Republican Party official. The two asked him to consider running for office and he agreed.
Crisafulli’s acceptacnce speech stuck closely to conservative principles, with standard Republican positions ranging from supporting business owners to railing against government dependency to espousing gun rights and protecting “the sanctity and the dignity of life.”
He said he had seen how small farmers had been crushed by government taxation and regulation and that many more jobs would be created if government would “just get out of the way.”
In attendance at the ceremony, in addition to Crisafulli’s family and the Republican House Caucus: Lt. Gov. Jennifer Caroll, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Senate President Don Gaetz, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, former Speaker Dean Cannon, former Senate President Mike Haridopolos and several other top former lawmakers.