Make us your home page

Will Gov. Rick Scott ride Florida's lower jobless rate to re-election?

It's simple why I'm supporting Rick Scott. He campaigned on a platform of getting Florida's economy back on track and has delivered on that promise.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Nov. 12.

Can it be that simple?

Will Florida Gov. Rick Scott win re-election next November just by spending tens of millions of dollars reminding Floridians that the state unemployment rate was sky high when he took office and now it is not?

When Scott first took office as governor in early 2011, Florida's jobless rate was just under 12 percent, while Tampa Bay's had climbed to 12.4 percent. Those same rates had both dropped to 7 percent in August 2013 — the latest numbers available. They are also lower than the national rate.

Among campaign strategies, that 5-plus-percentage-point decline in unemployment amounts to a slam dunk for Republican Scott.

Freshly constructed Democrat Charlie Crist, Scott's likely opponent, has his work cut out for him.

Rick Scott, a two-termer?

Do not underestimate him. Again.

Yes, this is the same guy denounced during his first campaign for escaping government fraud charges brought against Columbia/HCA, the hospital chain that was fined $1.7 billion that he once ran. Yes, this is the same guy who walked away with hundreds of millions in HCA stock — money that would help fund his high-priced, successful run for governor in 2010. Yes, this is also the same guy lampooned in office for his likeness to Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter's evil nemesis.

If it did not matter enough then, it sure won't matter now. Voters hungry for employment will rally behind an incumbent telling Floridians for years that "jobs, jobs, jobs" is his priority in office.

Let's get real for a moment.

Governors can only influence broad economic trends at best. On his first day as governor back in 2011, Scott could have stuck his head in the sand and Florida's unemployment rate still would have dropped dramatically.

But Scott does deserve some credit.

He lowered taxes and promoted Florida to businesses elsewhere as a good place for relocation or expansion. He sent letters to the leaders of companies in selected states urging them to move to Florida. One company, car rental giant Hertz, brought its headquarters to Estero in southwest Florida.

All that effort may have dropped Florida's jobless rate just a bit more than it would have declined anyway. But many Floridians also gave up and stopped looking for work. And many of the new jobs created in Florida since Scott took office are in industries like tourism that pay less than the jobs that went away.

No matter.

The barrage of political advertising coming our way praising Scott's single-handed success in saving Florida's job market will be stunning.

Charlie Crist better have a darn good response.

Because these days, a message of more jobs trumps all.

Just ask Jeb.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at

Will Gov. Rick Scott ride Florida's lower jobless rate to re-election? 11/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 8:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Appointments at the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA and the Straz Center highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA has named Matt Mitchell its new chief executive officer, effective Oct. 16. Selected by the Y's CEO Search Committee following a five-month search, Mitchell will succeed Tom Looby, who is retiring. Looby has served the Y Movement for 37 years, the past 10 …

    The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA has named Matt Mitchell as its new Chief Executive Officer. [Handout photo]
  2. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  3. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]
  4. Lockdown: Florida's 97,000 prison inmates confined through weekend

    State Roundup

    All of Florida's 97,000 state prison inmates are on lockdown — and will remain confined to their dorms at least through the weekend — in response to unspecified threats about possible uprisings, officials from the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday.

    Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  5. Carnival announces five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba


    TAMPA — Carnival Cruise Line is adding five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba in 2018, Port Tampa Bay announced Thursday.

      Carnival Cruise Line announced additional cruises to  Cuba. Pictured is its Paradise cruise ship departing on its inaugural voyage to Cuba from Tampa. | [MONICA HERNDON | Times]