Sometimes fate plays that unexpected card that makes all the difference, such as Wednesday when the Florida House of Representatives narrowly approved the controversial “whiskey & Wheaties bill, allowing whiskey to be sold in grocery stores.

Earlier that day a 30-year-old Monticello man driving in Tallahassee was distracted by a device, didn’t see the red light, and slammed his SUV into the back of a car stopped at the light. Victor and Carmen Torres in that car were injured, and transported to the hospital by ambulance.

Victor Torres happens to be a Democratic state senator from Orlando; but the real connection in this narrative is that he and Carmen are parents of Democratic state Rep. Amy Mercado of Orlando.

Mercado rushed to the hospital to be with her parents, taking leave of the House of Representatives’ session.

In her absence, the House approved Senate Bill 106 by one vote: 58-57, sending it to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

The Torreses were eventually released from the hospital, fine, but hurting.

“I have been against the bill from the beginning, so if I was in the chamber today [and not in the hospital with my parents] my vote would have been a no and made it a tie,” Mercado wrote last night on Facebook. “Therefore, my one vote could have killed the bill.”

The vote split Central Florida House members, though most voted against it. The yes votes included Republican state Reps. Jason Brodeur of Sanford, Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs, and Mike La Rosa of St. Cloud; the no votes included Republican state Reps. Eric Eisnaugle of Windermere, David Santiago of DeLand, Tom Goodson of Rockledge, Mike Miller of Winter Park, Rene Plasencia of Orlando, Scott Plakon of Altamonte Springs, and Jennifer Sullivan of Mount Dora, and Democratic state Reps. Bruce Antone of Orlando, Kamia Brown of Orlando, John Cortes of Kissimmee, and Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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