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.

Rick Scott now our warm and fuzzy governor? 02/09/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 9, 2012 11:30pm]

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