FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The Republican-controlled Florida Senate's new leader is a sharp-tongued orator.
Don Gaetz also is a throwback to when members of both major parties put aside ideological purity for the sake of getting things done.
He's a lifelong Republican, but his mentor as a high school debater was a liberal Democratic state lawmaker in his native North Dakota.
Gaetz is now 65 and living in the Panhandle town of Niceville. He later succeeded in business by partnering with another liberal. He also counts Democratic Sen. Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood as a close friend.
Sobel said Gaetz is a conservative but not an ideologue.
Gaetz makes few apologies for his rough-and-tumble debating style. He said it "sands the rough edges off public policy."