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Five minutes with Travis Hutson

Sen. Travis Hutson won a special election Tuesday night to replace John Thrasher, who had resigned to become president of the Florida State University.

As the House District 24 representative, the Elkton Republican already represented three of the four counties in Senate District 6.

Now as a senator, Hutson also represents Putnam County, in addition to St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia counties.

Hutson is a Florida native who attended public schools in Elkton, and earned an economics and business degree from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He started as a wide receiver on three Lafayette Patriot League Championship football teams. Hutson also won a 2006 Patriot League Track Championship in the 100-meters.

A Realtor by trade, Hutson worked in his family’s property and agricultural management business, The Hutson Cos., after graduating from Lafayette in 2007.

First elected to the Florida House in 2012, Hutson was re-elected without opposition in 2014.

Hutson was sworn in as the District 6 Senator on Wednesday.

Q: Tell us, what’s it like settling into the Senate in midsession?

Hutson: It’s interesting. I’m seeing bills that I voted for on the House side and now I’m sitting on Senate committees and I’m seeing them for the second time. It makes the job a little easier because all of the questions have been asked and answered. I’m trying to fit in and understand everything, not step on anyone’s toes while we are over there.

Q: You walked across the Capitol Complex from one building to another separated by less than 100 yards.  Is it a different world?

Hutson: I’m seeing it now. It is a different world. There’s fewer people so there’s fewer people talking and fewer ideas being floated so there are fewer oil-and-water fights, you know? The Senate is very cordial. They have a set time when they do stuff in committees and they get their stuff done on time.

It’s not like the House where they start at 1 o’clock and they complete it when done. They say we’re going from 3 to 5 and we’re going to be done at 5 no matter what. I think they all know that so it is a little less oil and water over there.

Q: What is it like running a campaign while also serving during a Legislative Session, juggling the two responsibilities?

Hutson: I will tell you right now I would not wish that on anyone. It was a little difficult. I was very focused in Tallahassee when I had to be because session started and I had a commitment I made to the people as a representative and I took that very serious.

Monday through Friday or Monday through Thursday, depending on the week we were up here, we did legislative stuff and we kind of didn’t speak about the campaign. Then on the drive back we got back into campaign mode. We went to the events we needed to. We knocked on doors and met with constituents.

We kept it very separate and it was difficult to juggle. Fortunately, we won and now we don’t have to worry about it for a while.

Q: One of the things I would imagine, juggling a session and campaign together, is that you were getting instant feedback on the campaign trail about what was happening at the state Capitol.

Hutson: It was interesting because as the stories came out from you guys —you may have talked about a bill that was brought up in a committee — and by the time some of the folks read it may have changed and so I provided the instant feedback. 

It was a way to have a good litmus test of the community about how a bill had changed and I got the instant feedback out of that.  It was definitely an interesting mix.

Q: You made it to the Senate: What do you hope to accomplish while there?

Hutson: It’s what I campaigned on. Sen. Thrasher did a lot of things for the district and the area. He represented and now I represent four counties and when we went through the special election we didn’t have a senator for three of the four counties, Putnam, Flager and St. Johns.

So Rep. Renuart and myself understood that and we worked very hard on both sides of the aisle to make sure appropriations were in and now that I’m over in the Senate I’m hoping they stay in and I’ll work hard on that for the final three weeks and then look to the future for what the district needs.

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