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You can learn a lot about new Florida Gov. Rick Scott in one day

JACKSONVILLE — Scribbles in my notebook after a day with new Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who capped off a four-day road trip with a pair of public appearances in Jacksonville on Tuesday:

1. Only Washington, D.C., topped Tallahassee on Scott's list of most-loathed cities during the campaign. So guess where the Republican governor plans to point the nose of his private jet?

Scott is aiming for a trip to the nation's capital soon and said he'll return as often as once a month to work on transportation, education and health care issues.

"I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Washington making sure that we get our fair share of dollars," Scott said after a tour of the Jacksonville Port Authority.

2. Of course, it's part of Scott's responsibility to lobby D.C. on the state's top issues. But using phrases like "fair share of dollars" is a sharp contrast to a few months ago on the campaign trail when Scott hammered his political opponents by railing against federal spending in Florida. Now that Scott is governor and under pressure to deliver new jobs to the state, that federal money doesn't sound so toxic.

3. Scott sees an opportunity for the feds to pay for expansion of the state's ports. In Jacksonville, port officials are looking for $650 million to dig their biggest ports from 40 to 50 feet deep. "This sure appears to be one of the places we need to expand," Scott said.

4. Asked if he there was federal money available to pay for that dredging, Scott said, "Well, I hope so."

5. The deadline to apply for the job as head of the Florida Department of Transportation passed Friday without Scott's top pick submitting his resume. Tyler Duvall, a former assistant secretary at the U.S. Transportation Department under President George W. Bush, turned down a full-court press from Team Scott, opting instead to keep his consulting job at the Washington, D.C., McKinsey & Co.

The Florida Transportation Commission on Friday will select a handful to interview from a list of 46 applicants. The interviews are currently scheduled for Feb. 11 in Orlando.

6. At the Florida Sheriff's Association conference Tuesday night in Amelia Island, Scott mentioned for at least the second time that he expects a significant backlash after he releases his much-anticipated budget proposal Feb. 7. He appealed to the sheriffs — traditionally the most popular politicians in a community — to help sell his spending recommendation.

Scott won't say where he anticipates the most protest, but he'll have to recommend some significant cuts to account for a budget shortfall approaching $4 billion plus another $2.2 billion to pay for the property tax cuts and corporate income tax cuts he promised on the campaign trail.

"I hope each one of you will stay active and defend me a little bit because I'm going to do exactly what I said I was going to do," Scott said.

7. In return for their support, Scott offered to add to his already lengthy list of promises. "I promise you won't have any unfunded mandates," he said to a round of applause.

"I don't believe state government ought to be telling you how you should do law enforcement. You know what you should be doing and your communities will hold you accountable."

8. In the speech to sheriffs, Scott referenced the police shootings in St. Petersburg and Miami (he said the memorial service Monday in Miami was a "moving experience" and plans to attend the service Friday in St. Petersburg) and told the group he'll do whatever he can to push their legislative agenda through the state Capitol.

But in an interview after dinner, Scott said he won't back any legislative attempts to restrict access to guns.

"I believe in the right to bear arms, and I don't see that there's anything we should be doing right now to tighten that," he said.

Scott owns 11 guns, including some he uses for bird hunting and some pistols that he takes for target practice.

9. The shootings in Florida happened just days after the tragedy in Tucson, which sparked a national discussion on the use of violent speech. Scott was the target of an aggressive outburst in October from U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa. Kanjorski, who lost his re-election bid, called Scott a crook and said that instead of running for office someone should "put him against the wall and shoot him."

Scott brushed it off.

"I know about it. I didn't read it. … I didn't see any video of what he said," Scott said. "It's wrong to say something like that. But I don't know the context."

10. Scott said he didn't know Kurt Browning, his pick to oversee elections in Florida, headed the campaign to defeat a pair of constitutional amendments requiring the Legislature to draw political districts along nonpartisan standards.

Scott has stalled implementation of the amendments, but said Browning will follow his marching orders.

"I'll make the decision," Scott said. "I'm the governor of the entire state. My job is to represent all voters."

Michael C. Bender can be reached at mbender@sptimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelCBender.

You can learn a lot about new Florida Gov. Rick Scott in one day 01/26/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 10:57pm]
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