TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - All 40 members of the Florida Senate were sworn into office Tuesday morning. Half of them are new to the chamber, including longtime former Bay County Commissioner and businessman George Gainer.
For Gainer, Tuesday was a dream that came to fruition.
"I have often thought I'd make a good senator so I decided that I would run for the privilege," Gainer said.
The traditional organizational meeting combines business with celebration as family and friends are invited to pack the senate chambers for the monumental day.
"I told people I had quite a few people coming over this way, and they said, 'what do you got, 12, 15, 20?' and I said no. There's 200 and climbing, and it was around 250," Gainer said.
Three busloads of people from Northwest Florida made the trip to Tallahassee to be a part of Gainer's swearing in. Not everyone was able to sit in the chambers, but everyone was treated to breakfast, lunch and a special prayer with Gainer.
"It's been really exciting to see just the excitement on George and Jan's face and all the members of the community who took a two hour bus ride over here and a two hour bus ride back home just to support our local guy," Panama City attorney Waylon Thompson said.
"He just has a servant's heart. He is just committed to so many people and doing the right thing. He's a man of conviction and principle and I think that's going to serve him well and indeed our district well," Mark McQueen with First Baptist Church, Panama City added.
"They care, and they're so supportive, and they believe in me, and most of all, that I have a lot of people not to disappoint," Gainer said.
Gainer said he's encouraged the Republican controlled Senate believes in a balanced budget, but he wants to make sure Northwest Florida receives more of the BP oil spill compensation.
"This money wasn't awarded to the state. It was awarded to Northwest Florida, and I'm going to do everything I can to see that Northwest Florida gets the benefit of all of that," Gainer said.
The Florida House also held an organizational session at the capitol. Representatives Jay Trumbull and Brad Drake were sworn-in for their second terms.
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