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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gaetz worries about Gov. Rick Scott hurting other Republicans

As the 2014 election cycle approaches, a lot of prospective Republican candidates are nervously watching Gov. Rick Scott's low poll numbers, knowing that their campaigns could well be dragged down — or lifted up — by the fellow at the top of the ticket.
 
Count Florida Senate President Don Gaetz among those worried about Scott's prospects.
 
"There is a growing concern among many people who run for office at the local level or the legislative level that we want to have a strong top of the ticket,'' Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9. "All of us are together on that ticket. We hope he does well, but I think it's going to be an uphill battle."
 
Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, joined Gaetz for the extended Political Connections interview airing at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. and declared himself bullish on Scott's re-election, given the improving economy.
 
Weatherford's staunch opposition to accepting billions of dollars in federal money to expand health insurance to low-income Floridians helped kill the prospects for any compromise. Scott, a formerly fierce opponent of the Affordable Care Act, supported accepting the federal money, but has faced questions about how hard he pushed legislators on the issue.
 
"The governor never called me one time to ask me to expand Medicaid," Weatherford said.
 
Asked about Scott's engagement in the legislative process, Gaetz praised his chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, but said Scott preferred not to meet with the Senate president because such meetings would be open to the press.
 
"There were times when I wish we could have met but there apparently wasn't a desire on the part of the governor to have a public meeting," said Gaetz. "We knew where the governor was, but I would say he probably was less engaged than, say, a Jeb Bush was. When Jeb Bush was governor there was no hesitation and no question about where he stood and who was the leader."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 5:24pm]

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