Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kottkamp will have to win on his own, out of Crist's shadow

It's fitting that Jeff Kottkamp's political rise involved an airplane trip.

On the morning of Sept. 13, 2006, reporters filed onto Charlie Crist's campaign plane without being told where we were going. "Undisclosed location" was the official line.

We resented it. It was media manipulation at its best, but it was either that or miss the announcement. Only when the plane was out of reach of reporters to use cell phones and BlackBerry units did Crist spokeswoman Vivian Myrtetus utter these words: "We're headed to southwest Florida," where Kottkamp lived.

The 48-year-old lawyer and former House member from Cape Coral has been encased in Crist's shadow for the past 21/2 years, his obscurity shattered only by his own frequent use of state planes to commute to Tallahassee.

Nobody knows who the lieutenant governor is. The idea is to be seen and not heard, to avoid controversy at all costs.

For Kottkamp, the bad news is that what most people know about him is that he flew on the state plane a lot.

The good news is that the two candidates for governor, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, have their own frequent-flier controversies that are, like Kottkamp's, fodder for investigations by the Commission on Ethics. Once again, Kottkamp may find himself overshadowed by others — to his advantage.

This week, for the first time, Kottkamp began to emerge from Crist's shadow as he attempts to become the first lieutenant governor in state history to win higher office.

Cast adrift when his meal ticket, Crist, opted to run for the U.S. Senate, Kottkamp now must stand on his own two feet and try to win office independently.

He now must walk a delicate line, balancing his fealty to Crist with his need to establish an independent identity. He will be forced to re-address his own record, such as his support (as a legislator in 2001) for flying the Confederate flag on public grounds.

Kottkamp wants to be Florida's next attorney general — the state's chief legal officer, arbiter of public records disputes, and member of the Cabinet on major policy issues ranging from the environment to investing pension funds.

"I feel very excited about this campaign," he said, "and I wouldn't run if we weren't going to run to win."

He shaved off his mustache. He hired campaign consultant Rocky Pennington, long aligned with the influential trial bar.

He launched a Web site,, where you can watch a four-minute video in which he vows to get tough with the "vile thugs" preying on innocent Floridians.

Kottkamp is well liked, and the trial bar is comfortable with him — a rare thing for a Republican candidate. It was telling that neither of his two Democratic rivals, state Sens. Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber, would poke him this week when given the chance.

Skittish about reading about more plane-trip stories, Kottkamp now largely travels by car. In the past few weeks, Kottkamp has logged 3,000 miles, according to the state trooper who's at his side 24/7.

Those travels in a state-owned SUV surely will increase as he works to boost his visibility as a candidate for attorney general. This week alone he was in Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa and Miami, ending the week Friday on familiar turf — his home base of Fort Myers.

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

Kottkamp will have to win on his own, out of Crist's shadow 07/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 24, 2009 8:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. First WannaCry, now cyberattack Petya spreads from Russia to Britain


    Computer systems from Russia to Britain were victims of an international cyberattack Tuesday in a hack that bore similarities to a recent one that crippled tens of thousands of machines worldwide.

    A computer screen cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, at an office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Tuesday.  A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across Europe.
[Oleg Reshetnyak via AP]
  2. Pinellas sheriff's corporal had racist, sexist, pornographic content on his cell phone

    Public Safety

    LARGO — A Pinellas County sheriff's corporal resigned recently after an investigation into an alleged extramarital affair revealed a trove of racist, sexist and pornographic images on his personal cell phone.

    Shawn Pappas, 46, resigned as a training division corporal from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office after an investigation revealed a trove of offensive images and videos on his phone. This photo was taken as a screenshot from one of the videos released by the Sheriff's Office that Pappas filmed while on duty. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine reflects on the news from the Congressional Budget Office analysis that could imperil GOP leaders' hopes of pushing their health care the plan through the chamber this week, Tuesday, on Capitol Hill in Washington. [AP photo]
  4. Review: Dan Auerbach, Benjamin Booker plumb the past for inspiration on new albums

    Music & Concerts

    It didn't take Benjamin Booker long to get lumped in with the greats. The Tampa-raised singer-songwriter's 2014 self-titled blues-punk debut brought widespread acclaim, not to mention an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, a tour with Jack White and sessions with Mavis Staples.

    The cover of Benjamin Booker's new album "Witness." Credit: ATO Records
  5. Fourth of July in Tampa Bay: parades, hot dog parties, concerts and more things to do


    Looking for things to do on the Fourth of July in Tampa Bay? There is no shortage of patriotic events, from the Hot Dog Party concerts and eating contest in Tampa, to the parades in Land O' Lakes and Safety Harbor, to the swinging dance party at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine arts, there's an abundance of things to do …

    The annual Independence Day parade in Brandon kicks off at 10 a.m. on July 4 at 101 E Lumsden Road. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times (2015)]