Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Can Florida Gov. Rick Scott become more than a punch line?

After six months as governor, Rick Scott remains a national punch line.

Which is what no politician ever wants to be. Especially the guy in charge of the nation's fourth-largest state.

As Scott passes the six-month mark, this week is as good a week as any to take stock of how he is doing.

The bottom line: There are glimmers of progress in Scott-land, but the governor remains as erratic as ever, and he's a human pinata for the national media.

Don't laugh.

Floridians can take a joke as well as anybody, but we despise being made fun of, especially on the national news.

We had our fill of that in the presidential recount of 2000 ("Flori-duh," pregnant chads, butterfly ballots, Katherine Harris, etc., etc.).

Enough already.

People in Florida just want to be taken seriously by folks in places like Peoria, Ill., and Scott's not helping.

Television comic Stephen Colbert gleefully feasted on a smorgasbord of Scott missteps Monday, most notably by mocking the canned letter to the editor Scott wants people to send to newspapers to make it look as if there's a groundswell of support for what a great job he's doing.

In two minutes, The Colbert Report turned Scott's letter-writing campaign into a public relations disaster.

Referring to Scott's abysmal poll numbers, Colbert said, "He'd probably be doing better if he wasn't trying to kill Harry Potter."

Images of the bald-headed Scott and Potter's tormentor Lord Voldemort appeared side by side on screen, as the studio audience howled with delight.

Tuesday's New York Times also cited Scott's 29 percent approval rating in a recent Quinnipiac University poll in suggesting that could help President Barack Obama in Florida next year.

Scott's spokesman, Brian Burgess, scoffed at such talk.

"People can talk about approval ratings all day long," Burgess said. "This (2012) election is all about jobs."

On Friday, the governor spoke to a statewide gathering of newspaper editors in St. Petersburg, a veritable mainstream media-fest.

Not Scott's kind of crowd, but a 29 percent job-approval rating has a way of focusing the mind.

Scott took six questions, three of them about transparency or open records, and wrapped up his comments from the Renaissance Vinoy in about 20 minutes. But he showed up, which was good. Progress.

Scott also blessed the SunRail commuter rail project for Central Florida on Friday, infuriating the fiscal conservatives and tea party types who were key to his election last year.

Writing in the conservative Sunshine State News, Kenric Ward speculated that the SunRail decision could be another Scott blunder: "Instead of gaining favor with 'moderates,' he ends up in no-man's land — alienating the right and mocked by the left."

Rep. Scott Randolph, a liberal Orlando Democrat, praised Scott's SunRail decision.

This is the same Randolph who's using Scott's unpopularity as a fundraising tool for his 2012 re-election campaign.

The good news for Scott is that next week, his new chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, will hit the ground running.

Job creation in Florida shows signs of life. The unemployment rate has declined for five straight months. And with a job-approval rating of 29 percent, Scott has nowhere to go but up.

Can Florida Gov. Rick Scott become more than a punch line? 07/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 1, 2011 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 16, 2017


    Seems like Broward County has started a domino effect. It was the first school board to commit to filing a lawsuit against the state and its controversial education bill, House Bill 7069. Then, the St. Lucie County School Board signed on, too. A running tally of school boards that have reportedly expressed interested in …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  4. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  5. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.