Saturday, April 21, 2018
Business

Florida business community may back Scott in 2014, if only by default

They may hold their noses while doing so, but business leaders are leaning toward backing Florida Gov. Rick Scott in his 2014 re-election bid.

Polls suggest Scott can be beaten on a broad set of issues. Yet on the topic of the Florida economy and jobs, where the business community's heart lies, Scott's message remains hyper-focused. The Sunshine State is a business-friendly, low-tax state. Join us.

That's a grossly superficial sales pitch given the woes of low-wage work and rising costs confronting Floridians. Yet business leaders increasingly say it still helps to have a governor so willing to pick up the phone and personally urge some distant executive to expand in Florida.

Besides, what's the alternative to Scott? More than a year before the election, Democratic contenders appear timid or cagey.

Business leaders view Alex Sink as one of their own even after she lost a close governor's race to Scott in 2010. But questions fester whether she has the fire to tackle another race so burdened with heavy fundraising demands.

Business leaders appreciate the charismatic style of Charlie Crist — especially given Scott's social awkwardness. But they worry over Crist's baggage. He flip-flopped from Republican to Democrat. And his decision when a first-term governor to seek a Senate seat over another term in Tallahassee bugs past backers. Asked in a radio interview this week what economic priority he would pursue if governor, Crist volunteered "clean energy." That was a big promise when he ran for governor in 2006. Yet under Gov. Crist, few clean energy advances emerged.

As for the aging Sen. Bill Nelson, leaders wonder why he would subject himself to the rigors of a governor's race. Former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston already is campaigning for governor, but is not on Central Florida's radar.

Then there is the money. Scott spent $73 million of his own wealth in 2010 and still has millions more, if needed, this time. As an incumbent, Scott now has what he once lacked: a state Republican Party delivering tens of millions in campaign funds.

His anticipated war chest for 2014: up to $100 million.

To many sharp business people, Scott's economic platform seems as flimsy as paper.

His obsession on Florida's jobless rate — sky high when he took office and now stuck at 7.1 percent, still lower than the national 7.3 jobless rate — ignores a complex reality. Most recently created jobs are low-wage, and Floridians' standard of living has suffered more than the nation's. Some argue the jobless rate is actually higher because more Floridians have stopped looking for work.

Florida "is still 515,100 jobs below its peak during the boom," says the Legislature's recently released State of Florida Long-Range Financial Outlook. "Simple rehiring, while necessary, will not be sufficient to trigger a robust recovery," the report warns.

At this point, none of these arguments matter. No one with the political ear of Floridians has stepped up to contest Scott or pierce the veneer of his "jobs, jobs jobs" pitch.

In the business community, Scott wins little applause. But it looks like he may still get plenty of support — by default.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected]

Comments
Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

When Samantha Hess’s marriage ended five years ago, she felt she was lacking a basic human need: Physical touch. As a woman in her late 20s living in Portland, Oregon, she found plenty of men interested in dating, but sexual contact was not what she ...
Published: 04/21/18
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. Those were among the prelim...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Times staffThe greater Brandon area will celebrate the grand opening of its second Goodwill store beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday (April 28) at 1407 U.S. 301. The new store will add another 12,000 square feet to the complex, which includes a 200,000-...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

State regulators Friday determined that one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, San Francisco-based Sunrun, is allowed to lease solar energy equipment for homes in Florida. The decision, solar energy advocates say, could open the do...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

For the sixth month running, Florida’s unemployment rate held at a nearly 11-year low of 3.9 percent in March as steady job gains continued. While many factors kept Florida’s economy chugging along, three industries stand out for leading year-over-ye...
Published: 04/20/18
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Published: 04/20/18
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Published: 04/20/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18