Andy Gardiner’s Game of Thrones

    Why the outgoing Senate President’s play to make his wife a state senator is a bad idea and wrong.


    By Jacob Engels


    As Andy Gardiner’s term in the Florida Senate is coming to an end, the Orlando Republican is making bold calculations in order to remain relevant in the capitol and beyond.


    Almost a year ago, Gardiner’s close friend Dean Asher, whom he has known since grade school, approached the outgoing Senator about his intentions of mounting a campaign to succeed him in the Senate. Asher, a prominent realtor, who is currently the Vice Chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said that his friend was initially supportive of his desire to serve the resident of District 13.


    “Andy has been my friend for as long as I remember. We live a few streets down from one another, and I wanted to have his support. Running for political office is complicated and demanding… you want all the help you can get from friends and family.” But, shortly thereafter, as Asher began forming his campaign structure and calling donors, Senator Gardiner’s tone changed dramatically.


    A family friend of both the Gardiners and Ashers said that it became very clear that Andy was not ready to give up the seat and was actively encouraging his wife to run for the senate. He was also calling donors, operatives and other elected officials, asking them to freeze out Asher financially and structurally. House Gardiner was not about to cede control of the 13th.


    “It was out of nowhere. Once Andy started down that path, he cut all ties with the Ashers. He does not even talk to Dean anymore.”


    As Gardiner began working to suppress support for his longtime friend, his behavior seemed to be more and more like Cersei Lannister of George R.R. Martins books made famous by the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones.” One top-tier GOP donor told me that Gardiner lashed out at him over the phone one day after hearing that he was going to support Asher. Gardiner chastised him and asked him if he was aware of the consequences.


    “Supporting Asher would be as bad as raising money for a Democrat is what he said.”


    This kind of behavior begs to question… if Andy Gardiner is willing to turn his back on a childhood friend in order to retain total control of a senate seat, what makes him any different than any number of characters from Game of Thrones.


    The raw ambition and cutthroat nature of his campaign to place his wife in the Florida Senate is very Little Finger. His not-so-veiled threats to donors and GOP power-players is so Lannister. It reminds me of the famous quote from Cersei to her son Joffrey in season one.


    “Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy.”


    So why would the residents of District 13 want another Gardiner representing them? Forgot any accomplishments that Andy can count, do people really want a man who turns his back on one of his best friends?


    When Camille Gardiner announces her campaign for Florida Senate in the next few weeks, I want people to ask themselves these simple questions. Are we going to let a dynasty start in our district? Or are we going to stand up to people like Andy Gardiner and Cersei Lannister and say enough is enough? And why would Andy Gardiner want his wife, who has no prior political or governmental experience to serve in the senate?


    Winter is coming Senator… I hope you are prepared for the long night.



    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at