Former Sen. Andy Gardiner served as a statesman, working across the aisle to bring Republicans and Democrats together and earning him a place on the list of Florida Politicians of the Decade.
Gardiner served in the Florida Senate from 2008 until 2016. He served as Senate President for his final two years. Before his service in the Senate, Gardiner was a Representative in the House from 2000 until 2008.
Gardiner was prepared to disagree with the Republicans in the majority on certain hot-button issues, including when he famously fell out of favor with the National Rifle Association and pro-gun special interest groups in 2015 after he decided not to place a campus carry gun bill on the agenda, effectively killing the legislation that would have allowed concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns on college campuses.
The next year, Gardiner stood firm in the face of organized attacks and refused to place the issue on the agenda.
Before those actions, Gardiner had a 100% rating from the NRA on his voting record on gun issues, but because of that one area of policy disagreement, he was the recipient of Marion Hammer’s ire.
Gardiner supported extending Medicaid benefits to adults receiving under 138% of the poverty income level under the Affordable Care Act. While Gov. Rick Scott had favored the Medicaid expansion in the run-up to his reelection in 2014, after his narrow win, Scott flipped back to a stance of strict opposition. Gardiner’s leadership in the Senate earned a rebuke from Scott, who subsequently vetoed two of Gardiner’s priorities — state funding to provide special needs assistance to students and expanding the University of Central Florida into downtown Orlando.
“Andy, I think, will forever be remembered for being very soft-spoken, but also as one of the most vocal advocates for children with disabilities that we have ever seen,” said lobbyist Gus Corbella.
“And Gardiner will be remembered first as the father of three children, and then I believe as the father of the popular and effective Gardiner Scholarships, the program that allows parents of special-needs students to purchase approved services in order to design a customized educational program for their child,” said David Johnson, who served all of the Gardiner campaigns as his political consultant.