Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Politics

Rick Scott considering 4 for lieutenant governor

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott is considering four people as possible picks for lieutenant governor: a pair of longtime Tampa Bay politicians, a sheriff and a superintendent of schools.

It's probably no coincidence that two people on Scott's short list are from Hillsborough, a pivotal swing county in statewide elections. Scott's main rival for re-election, Democrat Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg, is also from Tampa Bay.

Scott's office has started vetting state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, the only woman on a short list of candidates for the No. 2 job.

Others being considered are Sheriff Don Eslinger of Seminole County near Orlando, and Joseph Joyner, the appointed school superintendent in St. Johns County.

The lieutenant governor's office has been empty since March 12, when Jennifer Carroll abruptly resigned after it was revealed that she did marketing work for a veterans' charity that was at the center of an investigation of illegal gambling in Internet cafes.

Carroll's aides were dismissed, and Scott has said little about the search for a replacement.

"I'm still reviewing it," Scott said last week. "There's a lot of great people around the state that could be great lieutenant governors. We're still going through the process."

Each of the four people under consideration could help Scott in different ways as he seeks a second term next November. But none is well known by voters and only Lee has had any experience under the microscope of statewide politics, and was not successful.

No one on the short list would speak to the Times/Herald on Monday.

Lee, 51, a former Senate president who aspires to hold that job again, is a seasoned lawmaker and capable fundraiser with a pro-business voting record. He lost his only statewide race to Alex Sink for chief financial officer in 2006. Lee could smooth out the rough patches between Scott and the Legislature.

Murman, 63, is a former Democrat who served in the state House from 1996 to 2004 and is known for her advocacy of children. Elected county commissioner as a Republican in 2010, she has been seen at Scott events in Tampa, including his grass roots visit to Arco-Iris, a West Tampa restaurant, in September.

Eslinger, 56, has held office since 1991 as a media-savvy sheriff of a county in the heart of the I-4 corridor. His agency led a prolonged criminal investigation of Internet cafes that led to the conviction last month of a Jacksonville lawyer who ran veterans' charities as fronts for illegal gambling, and Scott signed a law outlawing Internet cafes last spring.

Joyner, 58, of St. Augustine, is the most obscure member on the short list. He has been the appointed superintendent of St. Johns County schools since 2003. Joyner has been supportive of the Common Core standards that Scott has distanced himself from, and St. Johns' students have had the highest FCAT scores in the state for the past five years.

It was unclear Monday how long the vetting will last or when an appointment would be made.

Scott's office declined to discuss any names or the process.

"I can't comment," said Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers. "We'll take the right time to find the right person."

In the past, Scott chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth has said that a selection would not be based on political calculations such as race, gender and geography. Rather, Hollingsworth said, Scott will find "a steward of the governor's vision and character." The next lieutenant governor is expected to finish out Scott's first term as well as campaign for a second.

If Murman or Lee is the pick, it would create a vacancy that must be filled by the voters.

Despite the intense speculation about the vacancy, the job of lieutenant governor is largely seen as a ticket to obscurity. But if Scott misfires and picks a running mate who's controversial, it could hurt him politically.

Absent from Scott's list is John Thrasher, 69, an influential state senator from St. Augustine and a former lobbyist whose name has figured in much speculation. He is seeking re-election to the Senate.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

     
Comments
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18
Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

Carlton: Time for Hillsborough’s Uncle Tom Road to go — but artfully.

In Hillsborough County — where one of the world’s largest Confederate flags still flies near a busy interstate — you may not be surprised to learn there’s an Uncle Tom Road.The name is a flash point and a slur, shorthand for a black person who will d...
Published: 05/16/18