Jeremy Ring jumps in race for CFO
Promising to protect Florida’s public retirement system and to focus on creating an innovation economy, former state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, on Wednesday jumped into the race for chief financial officer.
Ring, 46, said he is uniquely qualified for the job, about to be vacated by Republican Jeff Atwater, as a former legislator who focused heavily on Florida’s pension and as a businessman, investor and one of the first staffers on board at Yahoo.
“I understand the business aspect I’m sure as well as anybody that can run for that seat,” said Ring, who filed papers to begin raising money and is the first major Democrat to get into the race.
It’s a rare, open statewide seat seen as a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion, but no other big Democratic names are circulating for the position. The CFO is part of Florida’s Cabinet, along with the attorney general and agriculture commissioner, and was created nearly two decades ago after the Constitution Revision Commission asked voters to merge the Department of Insurance, Treasury, State Fire Marshal and the Department of Banking and Finance into the Department of Financial Services.
Republicans could wind up without a competitive primary, too. Because Atwater is stepping down before his second and final term ends, Gov. Rick Scott will appoint a replacement who will be a de-facto incumbent in 2018. Among the leading Republican contenders are developer and former legislator Pat Neal, Sarasota GOP chairman and state Rep. Joe Gruters, and state Sen. Tom Lee of Hillsborough County.
Ring said a top priority for him as CFO would be doing all he can to promote a stronger economy in Florida, by pushing for more venture capital in Florida, more business ties with Central and South America, and more engineers in the state.
Politicians constantly talk about creating jobs, Ring said, “but that rings hollow. They’re talking about jobs, I’m talking about how do we make an economy. They’re not focused on how they create the next Yahoo.com, the next Amazon.com.”
As a downballot candidate, Ring’s success depends in large part on what’s happening with the race for governor in 2018 as well as with President Donald Trump. He said he will focus on whatever he can control.
Known as a moderate Democrat in the Florida Senate, Ring opened Yahoo’s East Coast office out of his apartment in New York. He is capable of spending millions of his own money, but that’s not the plan.
“I’m going to hold my powder,” he said, “and if I need to put money in at the end, I’ll do that.”