Monday, December 11, 2017
Politics

Rick Scott now our warm and fuzzy governor?

Seriously, are we that easy?

Can it be that all the man who has been called the least-liked governor in America had to do was whip off his tie, ditch the suit, unbutton a few buttons of that starchy Brooks Brothers shirt and flash a twinkly smile — and we're all his?

Can it be that Florida Gov. Rick Scott had only to imitate a former governor's work-a-day schtick and dole out doughnuts from behind a counter, deign to speak with newspaper editorial boards, back off gutting education for a minute and chat on talk radio — and we're smitten?

Okay, so "smitten" is an exaggeration when it comes to how we Floridians currently feel about the governor. But for this new version of the New Governor, things are looking up.

Fair to say Scott did not make the best early impression in these parts as a millionaire first-time politician who won the governor's mansion by a whisker with the support of the tea party. Then he got to work running our state like a corporation rather than a place where people actually, you know, live.

Combine Scott's shadowy persona with moves that angered everyone from teachers to state workers to environmentalists to advocates for the poor to believers in high-speed rail, and people were calling him Lord Voldemort, the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named villain of Harry Potter fame. Rumors circulated about an actual invisibility cloak.

At a recent Tampa hearing over an outrageous new law limiting early voting and suppressing registration — one expected to, surprise, also suppress the Democratic vote — Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin expressed disappointment that the governor who signed it declined to show up and testify. This got a laugh from the audience. (Have you met our governor?)

Scott's approval ratings hovered at the bottom of the pile, 29 percent last May and 33 percent in December. Some smart Scottsters saw it was time for a makeover and ordered up the political version of a mani-pedi, a day cruising the aisles at Sephora and a team of nip-and-tuckers to have at him.

Voila.

Scott, who found new ways to alienate teachers last year, has lately made noises about understanding the importance of schools to this state. He wisely emphasizes jobs, something everyone wants to hear and about as safe as saying sunshine sure is nice. He's gone all Regular Joe on us, borderline chatty even.

Just this week, here was the Gov (I hear that's what he wants us to call him now) romping around the Florida State Fairgrounds and indulging in an impromptu square dance.

And no, I did not make that up.

Does it work? Last month, a Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll showed his numbers climbing, if not by leaps then at least to a more respectable 43 percent of voters approving of his first year. As a pollster put it: "The makeover's working."

We have three more years of New Scott to see if there's any real change from the man who thought drug testing state workers and welfare recipients are really fine ideas. It's like one of those handwringing boyfriend-advice stories on the cover of Cosmopolitan — Can He Really Change?

In our hearts, we relationship savvy voters probably already know the answer.

Comments
Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill

TAMPA — With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.The authority borrowed $152 million from the bo...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

Alabama Senate race, unlikely nail biter, races to finish line

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In a blur of television ads, conflicting polls and presidential tweets, Doug Jones and Roy Moore raced Monday to make their final pleas in Alabama’s special election for the Senate, with both candidates focused on turning out their...
Updated: 8 hours ago
As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

As tax plan gained steam, GOP lost focus on the middle class

The GOP tax plan on the cusp of becoming law diverges wildly from the promises President Trump and top advisers said they would deliver for the middle class — an evolution that shows how traditional Republican orthodoxy swamped Trump’s distinctive br...
Published: 12/10/17

Same income, but not taxes, in GOP plan

In most places, a dollar is a dollar. But in the tax code envisioned by Republicans, the amount you make may be less important than how you make it.Consider two chefs working side by side for the same catering company, doing the same job, for the sam...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17
Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

Democrats fighting math and history in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Renegade Republican Roy Moore may be plagued by scandal, but it will take more than that to convince the voters of 44th Place North to show up for Democrat Doug Jones on Tuesday. In a state where Democrats are used to losing, the m...
Published: 12/09/17
 ‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

‘He believes passionately that the liberal left and the media are out to destroy him’: A look inside Trump’s day-to-day

WASHINGTON — Around 5:30 each morning, President Donald Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to "Fox & Friends" for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s "...
Published: 12/09/17
Why Democrats decided Sen. Al Franken had to go

Why Democrats decided Sen. Al Franken had to go

  It seems like a distant memory now, but Al Franken’s arrival in the U.S. Senate eight years ago marked the very moment when Democrats’ control of Washington reached its highest point in a generation. After an eight-month recount, the ...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Rep. Trent Franks to resign after broaching surrogacy with subordinates

Rep. Trent Franks to resign after broaching surrogacy with subordinates

WASHINGTON — Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, said Thursday he would resign his seat in a statement where he acknowledged discussing surrogacy with two former female subordinates.Franks...
Published: 12/07/17
Sen. Al Franken says he’s resigning amid fresh accusations

Sen. Al Franken says he’s resigning amid fresh accusations

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced Thursday he will resign from Congress in the coming weeks following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations and the collapse of support from his Democratic colleagues, a swift political fall for a once...
Published: 12/07/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17