How to get on Rick Scott's good side
Scribbles in my notebook after a few events this weekend with incoming Gov. Rick Scott.
1.) Find Scott jobs and/or spending cuts and the wealthy incoming governor will be in your debt.
Scott understands well the pressure he’s under to create 700,000 jobs. He joked about it several times during his two days in Orlando this weekend. His best line was to a group of lawmakers he met with on Saturday.
"Find me 700,000 jobs and I’ll do pretty much anything," he said.
2.) As Scott prepares to take office Jan. 4, he’s holding hour-long meetings with batches of lawmakers from the Florida House and Senate.
After sitting through two meetings in Orlando this weekend with about a half-dozen legislators each time, just one lawmaker (Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach) brought up pension cuts, one of Scott's top issues. None offered potential budget cuts - another top priority.
In both meetings, Scott had to prompt lawmakers to talk about the topics.
“They talk about streamlining things, but they don’t talk much about spending cuts,” Scott said later.
Of course, Scott isn’t too interested in identifying cuts, either.
“We’ll come out with a budget and it will all be in there,” Scott said.
3.) Scott is in his element in these meetings.
Armed with his own personal pen and hotel paper, Scott takes his seat at the head of the table and goes around the room asking for ideas: the chief executive running the board meeting.
“This is not your first hostile takeover,” Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, told Scott.
4.) Baxley’s comment was meant as a compliment, which were in high supply during the legislative meetings.
Baxley, who helped lead the attack against Scott over abortion issues in the GOP primary, asked Scott for help on Saturday in his race for House Speaker.
Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, offered to be Scott's liaison with the Democratic caucus.
But Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Rockledge, went the other way, admitting to Scott that he had “no answers.”
“If you have any ideas about repealing a law, call me,” the freshman told Scott. “If you want to create a new law, don’t call me.”
5.) After ducking questions for most of Friday on high-speed rail, Scott offered a clue Saturday that he'd like to see the project happen. Scott said the project was "interesting" if the state could get it paid for.
Scott mentioned U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had called him earlier the week about the project. Scott also talked with U.S. Rep. John Mica and credit his new role as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for helping secure another $342 million in federal funding for the Tampa-Orlando line.
"Think if we wait they'll give us another $300 million?" Scott said.
6.) The meetings Friday and Saturday took place in a conference room at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Celebration, the same hotel where Republican Party of Florida held its quarterly meeting.
Scott met with all of the candidates for RPOF chairman and the Buzz afterward was that Scott is willing to stay out of the race as long as he can hire the party’s executive director.
7.) Scott noted the difference in how he was treated this weekend compared to the first RPOF meeting he attended last year during the primary. At that time, the party’s establishment was firmly entrenched behind Bill McCollum and not interested in helping Scott.
This weekend, the line was out the door of the conference room where people waited to take their picture with the newly-elected governor.
“The first one was pretty interesting,” Scott told reporters. “You might remember back to the first one, that was fascinating.”
Later, in his speech to the party rank-and-file, he said, “This is a lot more fun.”
8.) Speaking of McCollum, he and Scott shook hands for the first time since their primary election during the party chairman’s reception Friday night.
“I’m glad to help any way I can,” McCollum told Scott.
9.) Now that his jobs tour is over, watch for Scott to focus on hiring agency heads and a chief of staff.
He has another meeting with lawmakers on Monday, then will spend most of the week in staff meetings focusing on his budget recommendation, policy rollouts and his first agency hire. He has two weeks until his next announced public appearance when after Christmas, he hits the road on a two-day, seven-city pre-inaugural “Forging a Path to Prosperity Appreciation Tour.”