At one end Senate President Joe Negron made his case for why Republican Gov. Rick Scott should look favorably on the new state budget crafted by the GOP-controlled Legislature (and which will be voted on this Monday.)
Negron's logic was even though Scott didn't get what he want the Senate was always on his side. Senators backed Scott's request for money for business incentives and to fully fund Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency. They just couldn't get the House to go along.
"On the Senate side the track record speaks for itself ,'' Negron told reporters. 'We've been a strong ally in the Senate of the governor and his priorities.'
Contrast that to House Speaker Richard Corcoran who took a much more confrontational position toward the governor. (A governor by the way who has criss-crossed the state blasting GOP legislators and even running ads critical of legislators.)
'There's a war going on for the soul of the party,'' Corcoran said. "Are we going to be who we say we are?"
To Corcoran this "war" means opposing business incentives, or "corporate welfare' as he called them in the past. And in his brief session with reporters he also mentioned politicians who campaign saying they want to crack down on illegal immigration and are opposed to "the liberal socialistic health care policy called Obamacare" but then change their position when they get into office.
Without using his name directly, it was clear that Corcoran was taking aim at Scott, who flipped on Medicaid expansion (part of Obamacare) in his run-up to his re-election campaign and who ran in 2010 promising to take a hard line against immigration but then in 2014 signed a bill that extended in-tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants. (Corcoran voted against the bill even though it was strongly supported by then-House Speaker Will Weatherford.)
"I think what we need to do is elect leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say,'' said Corcoran, who maintains he has yet to make up his mind on whether he plans to run for governor next year.
Corcoran also predicted to reporters that he thought the House and Senate had the votes to hand Scott his first veto override if the governor does indeed veto the entire budget. (This requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers, which means Democrats will have to go along.)
His exchange with reporters showed that Corcoran - who talked before session of turning on the lights and finding the "cockroaches" that the Scott administration had allowed to flourish during six years in office - finishing the 60-day session with the same provocative, confrontational stance he had before it started.
Given everything that has happened over the last two months of the session it's not really surprising.
Along the way he pushed back against anyone - whether they were in media, his own party, or whomever - who challenged his statements or positions. Sometimes he did it in a lawyerly fashion (such as complaints about transparency weren't valid because the media focused on just one part and not the totality of the changes he pushed.)
But other times it was through sheer force.
He used the budget negotiations (largely behind closed doors) and Negron's own top priority to create a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to get the Senate to take up a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand Florida's homestead exemption. Corcoran was able to get the Senate to move quickly on this proposal even though it languished most of the session and was opposed by Sen. Jack Latvala, the Senate budget chief.
Corcoran also used his power in less visible, but still effective fashion (like shutting down session for long stretches in the final days when the pressure builds to act.) It has been argued that his crackdown on lobbyists before session and the requirements about increased disclosure were more about giving him the speaker a clearer idea of where lobbyists may be taking aim at his agenda.
And on Day 60 Corcoran got the Senate to sign off on a nearly 300-page overhaul of education policy (some of it never seen in public before) that will also be taken up Monday on the final day of session. Corcoran used the budget conference process to place all this policy into two "conforming" bills (bills that change state law to conform to the budget) even though some elements of the legislation weren't ever included in the budget conference. He also got policy changes for Visit Florida included in a bill that initially just dealt with a "displaced homemakers" program.
Corcoran wasn't apologetic for the move, saying instead that the bill (HB 7069) and which includes his "Schools of Hope" proposal to shift students in low-performing schools over to charter schools was some of the "boldest most transformational" change ever and would even rival former Gov. Jeb Bush's A+ plan that put in place the state's entire school grading system.
The setbacks for Corcoran were few: His push for major ethics reform and judicial term limits were never taken seriously in the Senate. There's an argument that despite his pre-session warnings to avoid them that there were plenty of special interest fights . Witness the drawn-out battle over the so-called "Whiskey and Wheaties bill" - which would allow grocery stores to eventually sell hard liquor - as one example. (Corcoran, who appeared to take a strong interest in the measure, maintains his backing of that bill was about free-market principles.)
But of course the question is whether Corcoran's victory dance is premature.
Because at this point it's unclear what Scott will do and whether he will use his own considerable power against the House speaker.
This past week Corcoran and his top allies let it be known that they had offered Scott a deal where they would have relented in a couple of places and funded a couple of his priorities: Visit Florida as well as money for repairs to the Herbert Hoover dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee.
That Scott's people rejected the deal isn't that hard to explain. As explained by those close to Scott, the governor didn't deliver a long list of demands to state legislators this year so it shouldn't be too hard to get the handful of things he asked for.
Of course there remains the chance there will be a few more chess moves before ultimately the Corcoran vs. Scott drama plays itself out.
Corcoran and Negron could refuse to immediately deliver the budget to Scott, meaning that the governor - and the Legislature - would have less time to act as the state moves closer to the end of the fiscal year on June 30. There's nothing in state law that mandates when the Legislature has to deliver the budget to Scott's desk. So theoretically the Legislature could hand it over a week ahead of time.
Yet in one way the two legislative leaders have given Scott an easier path to a budget veto.
The main general appropriations act is $82.4 billion, but it doesn't include many key elements. Legislators have placed more than $700 million worth of spending for Negron's Lake Okeechobee plan, Schools of Hope, Visit Florida and the state employee pay raise OUTSIDE the main budget bill.
This means Scott can sign some of the bills important to the Senate (where it may be easier to sustain a veto) while at the same time vetoing the budget and any other bills important to the House.
Of course if Scott does veto the entire budget (a rare occurrence in recent Florida history) then we get to watch Round 2 between the speaker and the governor.
And the war for the "soul of the party" will rage on.