GOP Speaker Choice Unanimous: Thrasher Orange Park Republican Sees River as Priority

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Rep. John Thrasher, who rose to power in the

House with unusual speed, received the unanimous endorsement of

Republican colleagues yesterday to be the next speaker.

Thrasher, a Republican lawyer from Orange Park who grew up in

Jacksonville, will be the first speaker from Northeast Florida

in 30 years in November 1998 if he wins re-election and

Republicans retain their majority as expected.

The last speaker from the region was Democrat Fred Schultz of

Jacksonville.

Thrasher said he will make the protection of the St. Johns

River one of his priorities in addition to the statewide issues

of education, public safety and economic development.

"How we maintain the integrity of our river is going to be

very important to me," he said.

Before his election five years ago, Thrasher gained

experience with the legislative system as general counsel and

lobbyist for the Florida Medical Association. He has been in the

House leadership since the Republicans took control last year.

He is co-chairman of the Rules, Resolutions and Ethics

Committee and guides the flow of legislation on the House floor.

He was first elected in 1992.

Thrasher has maintained good relationships with Democrats,

while carrying out the agenda of Republican House Speaker Daniel

Webster of Orlando.

"I think most of us recognize him to be a pretty fair-minded

person," Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, said.

Frankel, who as a trial lawyer was sometimes at odds with the

FMA, said she had no qualms about a former lobbyist for the

organization becoming speaker. …