Tallahassee: We're Outta Here

The Florida House of Representatives goes into special session at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Friday, Dec. 8, 2000.
The day after Al Gore's concession in the battle for the White House, the upper chamber of the Florida Legislature bowed out as well.

The Florida Senate officially adjourned Thursday without acting on a measure passed by the Florida House that would have given George W. Bush the state's 25 electoral votes.

"It's time for the country to move on," Senate President John McKay said.

How Does He Really Feel?
House Speaker Speaks

Florida House Speaker Tom Feeney could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. But the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported one of its reporters observed the speaker in a restaurant during Gore's speech and heard him comment, "What a loser." The newspaper reported Feeney also called the concession address "an evil speech." Feeney spokeswoman Kim Stone told the paper later that Feeney's comments were in jest and noted he "was among friends and colleagues at a private party." (AP)

Because both chambers are dominated by Republicans, Democrats had accused the legislature of a thinly veiled power grab meant to ensure a Bush presidency.

Senate Majority Leader Jim King said after Gore's concession speech on Wednesday night that the vice president offered "more than an olive branch" to the legislature, and lawmakers should do the same thing.

"This is as complete and total a capitulation as I've seen," King said. "He was offering more than an olive branch, he was offering an olive tree."

Republicans had argued that legal confusion over the race could keep the state's 25 electoral votes from being counted when Congress meets to count them Jan. 6.

Democrats had argued vociferously that such a move wasn't needed and set a bad precedent for state legislatures to choose who gets the electoral votes rather than letting the people's vote decide the question.

House Speaker Tom Feeney pressed the legislative intervention, quickly moving through a measure that named Bush electors as Florida's choice. The GOP controls has 77-43 majority in the House and a 25-15 lead in the Senate.
McKay, however, said he wanted to proceed more deliberately than the House in case the courts settled the matter. The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to do just that Tuesday night by rejecting a ballot recount that had been ordered by the Florida Supreme Court.

And then Gore made it clear, saying in his televised speech to the nation on Wednesday night: "I accept the finality of this outcome."

"He showed sincerity and finality and the Legislature ought to react in kind," said King, of Jacksonville. And with the Senate's adjourment, so it has.

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