Andy, I hope you succeed. I hope you thrive.
I also hope you don't turn into a bonehead.
My fears are well-founded.
See, I've long respected Andy. He's smart, compassionate and persistent.
But I've seen all sorts of seemingly sane people get leadership positions in Tallahassee — and quickly morph into self-serving, tone-deaf, money-wasting, power-hungry, hyper-partisan dolts.
So, Andy, here are a few basic tips on how to steer clear of the pitfalls demonstrated by some of your leadership predecessors in both the Senate and House.
Don't try to cash in on your public service by opening up a lobbying shop. (Dean Cannon.)
Don't try to score a $152,000 book deal at a publicly funded college while you're helping fund public colleges. (Mike Haridopolos)
Don't try to overturn votes taken by millions of Florida voters. (Dean Cannon)
Don't get indicted. (Ray Sansom)
Don't try to blow up the Florida Supreme Court. (Dean Cannon)
And don't use special-interest money to help pay off credit-card bills for things like travel and dinners. (Marco Rubio, Ray Sansom … and Dean Cannon.)
See why I'm worried? I guarantee that every one of those guys (and note they're all guys) assumed leadership with all sorts of kudos. And then … thud.
The problem is that power intoxicates — especially when you surround yourself with suck-ups and special interests.
If Andy's as smart as I'd like to think he is, he'll do better.
He'll seek out people who challenge his ideas. He'll meet with constituents frequently … here … in Orlando.
He won't indulge pandering nonsense. In the past, Andy hasn't led the charge for foolishness, but he has at times supported it — like the unconstitutional attempt to ban pediatricians from talking with patients about guns.
Leaders shape the system. They don't let the system shape them.
We've seen a handful of leaders leave Tallahassee with their reputations intact. Toni Jennings, the Orlando Republican who led the Senate years ago, comes quickly to mind.