Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, mainstay at low-profile events, looking for bigger role in 2012
The sparse crowd assembled on a Navy warship to honor three Pearl Harbor survivors awaits the arrival of Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.
Smiling, waving and squinting in the midmorning sun, Gov. Rick Scott's No. 2 is 15 minutes late when she boards the USS Underwood. In her only role during the event, she stumbles through reading a proclamation.
Afterward, it's handshakes, hugs and photos for Carroll, the state's first black lieutenant governor who enlisted in the Navy as a jet mechanic and retired as a lieutenant commander before winning three terms in the Florida House as a Republican from a mostly white, suburban Jacksonville district.
"I just want to hang on," says Edward Kmiec, a 94-year-old Pearl Harbor veteran, as he wraps his arm around the former model and smiles for a snapshot.
"Thank you for your service," Carroll, 52, tells him.
In the year since setting her own family photos on the credenza inside the lieutenant governor's office, Carroll, much as her predecessors, has been the governor's proxy at low-profile events like this Pearl Harbor ceremony. She also led foreign trade missions to Europe and South Africa, served as chairwoman of Space Florida and, she says, played a direct role in increasing federal defense contracts in the state.
But it's what she hasn't done that has surprised many people.