When relationships between two political parties were kinder and gentler

Ginger Bass Wetherell and Jim Scott.

Former Senate President Jim Scott, a Republican from Fort Lauderdale, and former Democratic State Rep. Ginger Bass Wetherell, now in their 70’s, are planning to marry sometime this spring.

It is a romance between old friends who served together in the Florida Legislature during the 1980s, when relationships between the two parties were of a kinder, gentler nature.

Mrs. Wetherell is the widow of former House Speaker and Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell, who died in 2018 after a 20-year battle with cancer.  Scott’s wife, Janice, died 16 years ago, losing her life to brain cancer after fighting for several years.

Wetherell served in the House from 1981 to 1994, ending his career as speaker.  Mrs. Wetherell was a House member from 1982 to 1988 and later served as head of two state environmental agencies and worked as a lobbyist. Scott was in the legislature from 1976 to 2000 and served as Senate President from 1996 to 1998.

“We were friends,’’ Scott recalled. The relationship began after Scott couldn’t make it to Tallahassee for T.K.’s funeral and made a sympathy call to Mrs. Wetherell.  Scott and Wetherell were old hunting buddies and they served together in the Florida Legislature.

Scott and Mrs. Wetherell have also been longtime lobbyists, although she has now retired.

Scott says he and Mrs. Wetherell started seeing each other last summer.  Former House Speaker John Thrasher, now president at FSU, let the cat out of the bag at a legislative reunion last week.

About 50 former legislators were in town for a reunion and attended a cocktail party at the President’s Mansion where Thrasher now lives.  Mrs. Wetherell designed and supervised the building of the mansion while her husband was FSU President.

Noting her involvement in the planning of the mansion, Thrasher surprised the crowd about the couple’s engagement.

Scott said he had never expected to remarry after his wife died,  but the relationship with Mrs. Wetherell “just blossomed.’’

“She’s a beautiful person inside and out,’’ he added.

They plan to tie the knot sometime this spring with a small wedding attended by family and a few friends.

“It’s not like we are 21 again,’’ he added.

They plan to spend time at each of several residences: she has a ranch in Jefferson County just south of Tallahassee and a ranch in Montana.

Scott has a 600-acre ranch near Bonifay in the Florida Panhandle and a residence in Fort Lauderdale, but spends time in the capital when the legislature is in session.

Scott’s ranch is near one formerly owned by the late Dempsey Barron, a political force for decades in Florida.

“We love the same things,’’ Scott said about Mrs. Wetherell. “She jumps on a tractor bigger than mine and drives it better than I can.’’

“I can,’’ she laughed when told about his comment.

Scott is still doing some lobbying for Broward County and others and remains a partner in a prominent Fort Lauderdale law firm.

Mrs. Wetherell said she never expected at this time in her life to find such happiness again.

“Life is full of surprises, she said. “It’s a pleasant surprise at our age.  We both feel so good about this.’’