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The Gallery at the Historic Capitol

Politics and Personalities

Key elements of the legislative process are the many laws, rules and regulations in place that guide the tasks performed by our State Representatives and Senators. Woven into the fabric of this process though is a healthy dose of humor and creativity necessary to temper the high stakes, long hours and complex problem solving facing legislators and staff of past years and current day. The collection of archive photographs currently installed in the Gallery at the Historic Capitol, entitled Politics & Personalities, offers a glimpse into the lighter side of our political figures from Florida's colorful past.

Former House Speaker and Governor W.S. Jennings (D – Hernando County) right is shown here in an alligator cart by the St. Augustine city gates while he was Governor between 1901-1905.

Florida State Archives

Albert W. Gilchrist (D – Punta Gorda) used this 1908 campaign postcard. A former House Speaker, Gilchrist served as Florida's Governor from 1909-1913.

Florida State Archives

When roads permitted, Sidney J. Catts traded the usual horse-and-buggy or railroad train for an automobile in his campaign for Governor in 1916. Ultimately the victor as the candidate of the Prohibition Party (Defuniak Springs), Catts publicized his novel approach with this banner across his car in his inaugural parade. He served as Florida's governor from 1917-1921.

Florida State Archives

Governor Sidney Catts (1917-1921) was the subject of these political cartoons during his campaign for Governor in 1915; in 1920; and at the end of his term in 1921

Florida State Archives

A 1941 turkey hunt was hosted by Rep. N. Ray Carroll third from left holding turkey (D – Kissimmee) at his ranch in Deer Park. Gov. Spessard Holland (D – Bartow, 1941-1945) stands middle front with hat in hand.

Florida State Archives

Attending Allen Morris' 1947 Cracker Politics Award Dinner are left to right Senator Newman Brackin (D – Okaloosa); Representative Farris Bryant (D – Ocala); Former Rep. and Candidate for Governor Daniel McCarty (D – Pierce); U.S. Senator Spessard Holland and Allen Morris.

Florida State Archives

Fuller Warren's (D – Jacksonville) gubernatorial campaign advertisement poster 1948

Florida State Archives

Former Representative Fuller Warren (D – Jacksonville) speaks from a truck during his gubernatorial campaign. 1948

Florida State Archives

Political cartoon by George White for the Tampa Tribune Year Unknown

Florida State Archives

On the air for spells of 24 hours, Representative J. Brailey Odham (D – Sanford) sought votes in his campaign for Governor in 1952. Usually from an automobile dealer's showroom, Odham would use each talkathon to raise the money to buy radio time for the next stop.

Florida State Archives

House Speaker Farris Bryant (D – Ocala) and an unidentified man in a woman's dress participate in 1953 Third House Attaches' Night, a precursor to the Capitol Press Corps skits.

Florida State Archives

Gubernatorial candidate Farris Bryant (D– Ocala) with his family in a campaign photograph Ocala, 1960

Florida State Archives

A colorful candidate for Governor, Claude R. Kirk (R – Palm Beach) shows off his campaign car in his 1967 inaugural parade.

Florida State Archives

President Nixon center with U.S. Senate Candidate Bill Cramer (R – St. Petersburg) and Florida Governor Claude Kirk (R – Palm Beach) right at political rally 1970

Florida State Archives

State Senator Lawton M. Chiles (D – Lakeland) became known as "Walkin' Lawton" after he hiked 1,033 miles from Pensacola to Miami in his successful pursuit of a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1971.

Florida State Archives

Senator Dick Renick (D – Coral Gables) displays a number of explosive devices he brought to the Senate Chamber to aid his discussion of Senate bill 200 calling for terrorist bombers to receive a 5 year minimum sentence for damage and a 10 year minimum if there are injuries. Senator Ralph Poston left (D – Miami) holds a small overnight bag which was used to bring a bomb into a police station. Fortunately an alert officer discovered the case and had the bomb disarmed. April 28, 1976

Florida State Archives

Former Governor Claude Kirk (R – Palm Beach), up to his old tricks, holds a dead chicken aloft during a 1977 speech before a Tallahassee group. Kirk is protesting what he terms "chicken government." Kirk says, "You can't sit around and let government run the world or we'll all wind up like plucked chickens."

Florida State Archives

"Workdays" were originated by State Senator Bob Graham (D – Miami) who in 1977, as a relatively unknown gubernatorial candidate, created campaign publicity by undertaking a series of 100 workdays. Graham announced he would experience the lives of ordinary Floridians firsthand by working their jobs. A multi-millionaire Harvard Law School graduate, Graham continued the workdays during the eight years of his tenure as Governor from 1979-1987.

Florida State Archives

A dark horse candidate for Governor in 1985, State Senator Frank Mann (D – Ft. Myers) campaigned on horseback. In remembrance of the rise of another State Senator from obscurity to the Governorship, Mann named his horse "Reubin" after Reubin O'D Askew.

Florida State Archives

Larry Hawkins (D – Dade City), a paraplegic Vietnam veteran and State Representative propelled a wheelchair 1,100 miles from Pensacola to his home community of Perrine in 1986. A candidate for Commissioner of Education, Hawkins used the wheelchair to call attention to his campaign.

Florida State Archives

Senate President Harry Johnston (D – West Palm Beach) and House Speaker James Harold Thompson (D – Quincy) perform an Abe Lincoln spoof during
the Capitol Press Corps skits in 1985.

Florida State Archives

Senate President Jeff Atwater (R – North Palm Beach) left and House Speaker Larry Cretul (R – Ocala) raise the state flag over the Historic Capitol at sunrise on March 3, 2009, the opening day of the Legislative Session and the 164th Anniversary of Florida's Statehood.

Senate Photographic Collection

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