On a day when stark differences in priorities by the House and Senate came into sharper focus, House Speaker Richard Corcoran spoke at the annual legislative prayer breakfast Wednesday at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee. The yearly event is sponsored by the Florida Faith & Freedom Coalition, part of the national conservative group founded and led by Ralph Reed and based in suburban Atlanta.
"It's that truth that you tap into and you say, 'I will fight for truth,'" Corcoran said in a brief speech. "And I will stand, regardless of the consequences, and that doesn't happen without your prayers and your support."
Midway through Week 4 of the scheduled nine-week session, Corcoran and the House are on a collision course with the Senate and Gov. Rick Scott on a range of issues including public school and university funding, tax cuts and Enterprise Florida's future.
About a dozen legislators attended, as did two justices of the Florida Supreme Court, Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson. The coalition's executive director, Tim Head, urged attendees to flood Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson with emails and calls to urge him to reverse course and support Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. The crowd applauded when Head predicted that Trump could appoint up to five justices if he serves two terms as president.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam presented the annual Defedner of Faith and Freedom Award to Pat Neal, a Florida home builder, board member of the Christian Coalition, long-time Republican activist and former Democratic state legislator from Bradenton who has been mentioned as a possible Scott appointee to the elected Cabinet post of chief financial officer when Jeff Atwater resigns later this year.
The keynote speaker was Mike Huckabee, the Fox News pundit, former Arkansas governor and two-time candidate for president, who lives on the Emerald Coast in northwest Florida.
He made it clear he won't run for any office again and described serving in public office as "a brutal game." When people tell him they're thinking of running for something, Huckabee said, "My first question to them is, can you stand the sight of your own blood? Becasue if you can't, don't do this."