TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Unable to win agreement with his Senate counterpart, Florida's Republican speaker indicated Monday the courts might make it unnecessary for lawmakers to intervene in the disputed presidential race.
At the same time, Speaker Tom Feeney believes "there's still enough uncertainty" to warrant a special legislative session that might choose presidential electors for George W. Bush, said Kim Stone, who is Feeney's spokeswoman.
"However, if the courts ... make the situation evaporate we won't step in," she said in an interview. "If there's no need for us we're not going to step in."
But she added that "right now we still feel as though there's an imminent need for the legislature to intervene."
Feeney has been the most forceful advocate of an immediate session to assure that Florida's six million votes count when electors cast their ballots for president on Dec. 18. Court disputes have threatened to linger past the Dec. 12 deadline for appointing Florida's electors.
But Feeney's hope for a quick session faded when Senate President John McKay decided to take several days to ponder the need for a session. Both leaders must agree to initiate the proceedings.
Feeney had scheduled a news conference to answer questions about the session, but canceled after two court decisions seriously damaged Al Gore's chances.
A state judge refused to overturn Bush's certified victory in Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court, temporarily at least, set aside a ruling that had allowed manual recounts sought by Gore.
Even before the courts ruled, Bush strongly signaled that he's in no rush to have the state legislature intervene.
"We ought to take this process one step at a time," he said during a brief meeting with reporters inside the governor's mansion in Austin, Texas.
A Bush aide, speaking on condition of anonymity about the possible intervention by the Florida Legislature, said, "No one's saying yea, we should get on with that."
Gore was briefed Sunday by his legal team and constitutional scholar Walter Dellinger about potential legal options if the Florida Legislature does appoint its own slate of electors.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.