Sunday, June 24, 2018
News Roundup

A fantasy creation: Florida's perfect lieutenant governor

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been without a lieutenant governor for more than six months and there's no sign he'll name one soon. As he looks for the right person, Scott must weigh an array of personal and political attributes. • "I want somebody that's going to help me fulfill my agenda. That's what I want," says Scott, citing jobs and education. • But there's so much less to the job than that. Cutting ribbons. Handing out proclamations. Going to rubber-chicken dinners from Palatka to Pahokee. • "The perfect LG would be attractive, affable, available and arguably qualified, but not burdened with too much ambition, assertiveness or acumen," says Republican strategist J.M. (Mac) Stipanovich. "He or she must be blessed with the stomach of a goat and the patience of a saint." • Here are 10 Republicans who in different ways personify the ideal attributes Scott should be targeting in his next lieutenant governor.

THE WIT OF FRANK BROGAN: As Gov. Jeb Bush's sidekick from 1999-2003, Brogan wore the smile and coiffed hair of a local news anchor and had the timing of a stand-up comedian. He could break the tension and neutralize Bush's dark side, but he also was serious about policy, especially education. Even the lack of serious responsibilities as lieutenant governor was fodder for his humor. He joked that at the Governor's Mansion, "They wrap up my dinner for me and leave it on the porch." THE GRACE OF MARTI COLEY: What the stubbornly unpopular Scott really needs is to get people to like him, and everybody likes Coley, a Marianna lawmaker who is just plain nice. She took the House seat of her husband David, who died of cancer in 2005. Even state employees, many of whom detest Scott's policies, believe Coley is looking out for them. She's also a career English teacher. So there you have it: jobs and education.

THE CONNECTIONS OF JOHN THRASHER: The state senator is said to have already been considered for the job by Scott's chief of staff. (Not true, the aide says, though the two share close Jacksonville bonds.) A former top lobbyist and House speaker and skilled backroom dealer, Thrasher could help Scott repair frayed relationships with lawmakers, but has more clout in the Senate.

THE AGENDA OF KELLY SMALLRIDGE: You've probably never heard of her, which makes her ideal for this obscure job. She's the top jobs recruiter in Palm Beach County, and Scott brags about her passion for her work wherever he goes. What Scott says he wants the most is somebody who shares his commitment to create jobs, which makes a state position for Smallridge a very good fit.

THE CRIST-INESS OF GEORGE LEMIEUX: Scott aides say they would never choose a No. 2 for purely political reasons. But if they did, here's their man: the "maestro" of Charlie Crist's victorious 2006 campaign for governor. Thanks to Crist, now a Democrat and likely Scott opponent in 2014, LeMieux served a stint in the U.S. Senate, but they had a serious falling out. Still, few people know Crist better, by George.

THE AFFABILITY OF GARRETT RICHTER: Serving as an obscure No. 2 seems to come naturally to Richter, who's state Senate president pro tempore. (You didn't know that?) He's courteous, gregarious and well-liked, the epitome of the small-town banker that he is. Not only that, but he lives in Scott's hometown of Naples, where his golf game wouldn't suffer a bit from the few duties of being lieutenant governor.

THE AVAILABILITY OF DOUG HOLDER: He's a pleasant- enough guy from Sarasota who has sat through his share of mind-numbing political dinners. More importantly, he's available to take a job that, let's face it, is not very appealing to politicians. Holder is locked in a holding pattern: termed out of office in 2014, he faces political exile, so serving as Scott's dutiful deputy looks like an attractive alternative.

THE PRAGMATISM OF TONI JENNINGS: As Bush's lieutenant governor from 2003-07, Jennings steered his agenda through the Legislature where she spent two decades, including four years as Senate president. She was popular and respected in a predominantly male club. Though wildly overqualified for the job, she didn't complain about the tedium and seemed to enjoy it. She stayed out of trouble and the headlines, too.

THE PASSION OF JEB BUSH: The former governor would play second fiddle to no one, so we're not suggesting he's an option. But Scott could not find a more passionate partner on the subject of education, even though they don't see eye-to-eye on policy goals like Common Core. Bush, like Scott, has the ability to stay on message and focus on what he thinks matters. And Scott could learn a thing or two about Bush's penchant for BHAGs (big, hairy audacious goals).

THE GEOGRAPHY OF DANA YOUNG: In politics, being in the right place at the right time is important. This two-term House member from Tampa has solid roots at one end of the I-4 corridor that bisects the state and is considered hallowed ground in Florida elections. A lawyer and mother of two, she would provide not just geographical, but gender balance, and "Scott/Young" would look good on a bumper sticker.

     
         
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