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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A night of diversity and Rick Scott levity at the Mansion



Gov. Rick Scott was in a fun mood Tuesday evening as he and First Lady Ann Scott, joined by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, welcomed a diverse crowd to the mansion for a Black History Month event. A jazzy trio played live music and guests posed for pictures with the Scotts and Carroll in the mansion foyer before making their way to the wine bar and hors d'oeuvres.

Several African-American legislators attended, and the mood was noticeably friendlier than it was a couple of weeks ago when the lawmakers lambasted Scott for what they called a deplorable record of appointing blacks to judgeships and other high-level positions. But by the time Scott began introducing the politicians, they had left for another social event. "Is (Rep.) Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed here?" Scott said to silence. "This is going really well ... Is Bill Clinton here? Barack Obama? We did invite him."

Here's more of Scott's unique style of ad-libbing: When Rep. Hazelle Rogers, D-Lauderdale Lakes, did not answer when her name was called, Scott said: "I know the bar's open ..." After noting the mansion's valuable gold and silver artifacts, he added: "There's cameras that watch you," as the crowd laughed.

There was an odd bit of scripting, too. First Lady Ann Scott, not the governor, introduced Carroll, the first African-American woman elected statewide. Carroll, the object of much speculation as to whether she will stay on the ticket in 2014, decided to brag on herself a bit: "He (Scott) wanted to find someone with my talents and skills and someone that represented the diversity of the state, and I appreciate the opportunity, Governor." 

In the crowd were Prudential lobbyist Mike Jennings; Scott fund-raiser Mike Hightower of Florida Blue (Prudential and Blue were corporate sponsors of the reception); state university system Chancellor Frank Brogan, and several agency heads, including Ken Detzner, Craig Nichols, Cynthia O'Connell, Wansley Walters and Dave Wilkins. "Any issues you have, they're the people to talk to," Scott said.  

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 8:24am]


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