When Florida governor Lawton Chiles died unexpectedly on December 12, 1998, less than one month before Jeb Bush was to assume the office, it was left to Chiles' lieutenant governor, Buddy MacKay, to step in for twenty-three days and run the state. 'I take no great pleasure in this', MacKay stated at his initial news conference, with good reason. Roughly one month prior, he had lost a brutal gubernatorial campaign as the Democratic nominee to Bush, meaning he now had to officiate over the investiture of a political opponent. This is Kenneth 'Buddy' MacKay's memoir of three decades of public life in Florida. It recaptures, in riveting detail, a time which saw Florida grow from a semi-rural to a mega-state, where political dominance shifted from the left to the right. ""How Florida Happened"", MacKay's first book, details his experiences in and influences upon Florida and national politics. As an officeholder in the Florida Legislature, the United States Congress, and at the highest levels of the executive branch of state government, he was a much sought-after source, frequently quoted by members of the press because of his ability to explain issues and enlighten the public in short, easily-understandable terms. His particularly keen eye and ear for the ironies and absurdities in government and politics as well as his brutal honesty come through in this welcome and wonderful memoir.
Buddy MacKay was born in 1933 in Ocala. He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1968, where he served for nearly a decade and won a number of awards as most effective legislator. From 1983 to 1989, he served three terms in the United States House of Representatives. MacKay received the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in 1988, only to lose to his Republication opponent by less than one percentage point. He was hardly finished with politics, however, as he convinced his political ally and friend Lawton Chiles to run for governor in 1990. For eight years he served as lieutenant governor with Chiles, only to personally learn in 1998, after his unsuccessful run for Florida governor, that the era of the Yellow Dog Democrat in Florida was officially over.