Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Is John Thrasher the lieutenant governor in waiting?

Sen. John Thrasher denies speculation that he’s in line to be Florida’s next lieutenant governor, a job unfilled for nearly eight months.

SCOTT KEELER | Times (2012) 

Sen. John Thrasher denies speculation that he’s in line to be Florida’s next lieutenant governor, a job unfilled for nearly eight months.

For nearly eight months, Florida has survived without a lieutenant governor.

Cobwebs must be growing in the deserted office as speculation rages about whom Gov. Rick Scott might pick to replace Jennifer Carroll.

Some wonder if Scott might make the announcement later this week, just before he leaves for a weeklong trade mission in Japan. The thinking is, Scott could steal some thunder from Charlie Crist's planned announcement as a Democratic candidate for governor next Monday.

Don't bet on that, Scott's people are saying.

Still, the talk of Tallahassee is John Thrasher, 69, a state senator from St. Augustine — also a lawyer, former lobbyist, former House speaker and decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.

"It's all news to me," Thrasher said in an interview Monday. "I've not been contacted by anybody." Asked if he would accept the job if offered, he said: "I'm not going to speculate on that. I'm happy being a senator."

As chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Thrasher steers the agenda and is in on every big deal, but it's an open question whether he would have as much power in 2015, when Andy Gardiner takes over as Senate president.

Then again, as lieutenant governor, he'd be cutting ribbons and passing out proclamations, holding down a job few take seriously.

"He's overqualified," tweeted lobbyist and GOP strategist Mac Stipanovich.

Thrasher is close to the man running the search. Adam Hollingsworth, Scott's chief of staff, says that no decision is imminent and that the goal is to find a "steward of the governor's vision and character," not a ticket-balancer for gender or geographical reasons.

That sounds like Thrasher.

He'd be loyal to Scott and is an astute politician, but as an older, rich white guy, he would not expand Scott's base.

Thrasher is the consummate insider, having used the speaker's post to launch a career as a lobbyist for Southern Strategy Group that saw his net worth climb to nearly $7 million. He also has been fined and reprimanded for two ethics violations that involved lobbying, and he spent $6 million on a major overhaul of the House chamber.

More recently, Thrasher swooped in to wrest control of the state Republican Party from free-spending Jim Greer, the Crist protege now doing time in state prison.

Not only would Thrasher be a safe pick who would reassure the Republican establishment, but few legislators are more openly contemptuous of Crist. Thrasher would be ideal in the role of running mate as hatchet man.

Thrasher also sponsored Senate Bill 6, a bill that tied teacher pay to performance, which Crist gleefully vetoed in 2010. For Scott, naming Thrasher as his No. 2 would greatly undermine efforts to come across as pro-teacher in an election year.

Then again, Scott could wait until next spring, after the 2014 legislative session, and try to recruit somebody youthful and photogenic like, say, Will Weatherford, who by then will be a lame-duck House speaker.

There's no way to tell.

The guessing game goes on about the one job that the "jobs governor" is in no rush to fill.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Is John Thrasher the lieutenant governor in waiting? 10/28/13 [Last modified: Monday, October 28, 2013 10:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Related Group breaks ground for complex on old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Miami-based Related Group has broken ground on a 400-unit apartment complex planned on the site of the former Tampa Tribune building in downtown Tampa.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday, August 23, 2017. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  2. Robert Pattinson is better than 'Twilight.' 'Good Time' proves it

    Movies

    INDIE FLICKS:

    GOOD TIME

    Don't judge actors by the books they cover on screen. It appears truer with each performance that two of our finest got their starts with the Twilight franchise.

    Robert Pattinson hooks viewers in Good Time, an inventive crime story.
  3. Deputies: Man feared other man was going to "steal his girlfriend" before armed assault

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Deputies: Rifle pulled in fight over girlfriend

  4. Largo police investigating U.S. 19 crash that killed woman, 34

    Accidents

    LARGO — Traffic homicide investigators are looking into a crash Wednesday morning that killed a woman and closed the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 for a few hours.

  5. Harvey regenerates into tropical depression, sets aim on Texas coastline

    Hurricanes

    The system moving toward Texas has regenerated into Tropical Depression Harvey, prompting storm surge and hurricane watches on portions of the Lone Star State's coast, according to the National Hurricane …

    [National Hurricane Center]