Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For Rick Scott, governing is surprising

Rick Scott's election as governor surprised a lot of people.

But it turns out nobody was more surprised than Scott.

Not that he won — he knew he would, as he said in the campaign. Rather, the shocker was the vast scope of the job.

Time after time, Scott has expressed surprise or outright shock at some aspect of being governor, and we've been keeping count.

You might call this column Rick Scott's Book of Revelations, and it began long ago.

"It's unbelievable, the number of cameras that showed up. I was shocked," Scott told a Tiger Bay Club crowd in Tallahassee in June 2010.

He had just submitted qualifying papers to run for governor and had no idea that so many TV stations wanted to capture the moment.

It wasn't just Scott who was blown away by the ramifications of being governor. Aides were, too, because most had no experience in Florida.

The morning after Scott beat Alex Sink, confetti still littered the floor of his victory hotel in Fort Lauderdale, and Scott got to work with a briefing on the Government in the Sunshine law that top press aide Brian Burgess remembers as "eye-opening."

Among the directives: It's illegal for the governor to discuss public business with the three Cabinet members in private because they comprise a body subject to the state's open meetings law.

"You can't talk to other Cabinet members," Scott said this week. "It's difficult because, in business, you can talk to anybody about anything."

On his second day in office, I was assigned to stake him out as he flew out of a general aviation airport, and I was there again when he returned later in the afternoon.

"Is this going to be a regular occurrence?" Scott asked.

Yes, sir.

At a Lincoln Day dinner in Pensacola in March, Scott voiced surprise at how many prisons Florida has — 144.

At the same event, he said he was shocked at how many people fill the halls of the state Capitol during spring legislative sessions (there were many more protesters this year than usual, largely because of Scott's policies).

As both a candidate and governor, Scott spoke repeatedly of his desire to eliminate "job-killing regulations," a theme that resonated with Republican crowds.

But Scott saw in the past legislative session that professionals such as interior designers will fight fiercely to be regulated, because it gives them a professional status and clarifies their scope of practice.

Another example is capital punishment.

Scott had a sense as a candidate that a governor had to sign death warrants, but he didn't give it much thought.

He recently experienced the unsettling fact that by affixing his name to a piece of paper, he determines the date and time a man dies for his crimes.

"It's a very difficult decision. You're changing somebody's life and their family's life," he said.

All of this is not to disparage Scott. It's simply another side of being an outsider: There's just so much to learn, as he has revealed many times.

In fact, in recent days, Scott has displayed a better grasp of his responsibilities and a sense of self-confidence that was not apparent earlier.

"One thing about this job is, things happen so fast," Scott said this week. "You sort of forget which day you did things."

Steve Bousquet can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

For Rick Scott, governing is surprising 08/05/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 6, 2011 1:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre


    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  2. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police


    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  3. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot


    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]