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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senator gets audience with Scott chief of staff to calm tensions



Four months later, he remains baffled by Gov. Rick Scott's budget vetoes, and the political atmosphere is tense. But Republican Sen. Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach made a solo mission this week in what he called an effort to "melt the ice" between the Senate and the governor's office.

"It's as tense as it's ever been," Bean said. So the gregarious lawmaker decided to pay a brief call Monday on Melissa Sellers, Scott's chief of staff.

"'Hey, I'm Aaron Bean. I want to start the relationship off better,'" is how Bean describes him breaking the ice. "She was very cordial. We've got to work together. We've got to have a professional relationship going forward. Hopefully we're headed in that direction."

Asked if he felt he made progress, Bean hesitated for several seconds and said, "Uh, yes, I think so. If not, that's what my mom told me: Go introduce yourself and say, 'Hey, I'm here to help.'"

Scott's office declined to comment. "Our office policy is not to comment on private meetings," spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.

Bean was a Scott supporter and campaign surrogate in the 2014 campaign. He also sponsored the Senate health care expansion plan that Scott, along with the House, defeated in the 2015 session. The senator said Scott vetoed his budget priorities, including money for the St. Johns River ferry in Jacksonville, a van for a local Association of Retarded Citizens group and a state grant for a school for special needs kids, financed largely by private money.

"I had a lot of stuff vetoed," he said, "but I'm going to be as positive as I can, going forward. We're all on the same team."

[Last modified: Thursday, October 8, 2015 11:56am]


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