Friday, May 25, 2018
Politics

Insiders predict Scott's pick for CFO successor

Whom will Gov. Rick Scott appoint as chief financial officer to succeed Jeff Atwater as he steps down for a job at Florida Atlantic University? We turned to our trusty Florida Insiders for their predictions and the more than 170 politicos were all over the map.

Results of the unscientific Florida Insider Poll (rounded to nearest whole number): Lakewood Ranch developer and former legislator Pat Neal, 22 percent; Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera, 15 percent; former state Rep. Tom Grady of Naples, 15 percent; state Rep. Joe Gruters of Sarasota, 12 percent; state Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon, 11 percent; Other, 8 percent; Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, 7 percent; state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater, 6 percent; former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel, 4 percent; state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, 1 percent; Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, 1 percent.

"Blood is thicker than water as they say so Scott is likely to pick a friend who is at least minimally qualified (Grady seems to fit the bill the best)," said one registered independent. "This might be good for Republicans politically in the U.S. Senate race if it helps Scott score some political victories on the Cabinet to make him look like a stronger leader."

Another Republican said the edge goes to Jacksonville's mayor and former state GOP chairman: "The CFO job belongs to Lenny Curry, but only if he actually wants it. He's been an unrelenting ally for Rick Scott over the years, which means he'll be a great ticket-sharer in 2018. Plus, he's a proven winner, he's got the right financial background, and few if any will outwork him."

And which choice would most help the GOP politically? Our establishment-heavy Insiders — political operatives, fundraisers, lobbyists, academics — leaned heavily toward former Florida House Speaker Weatherford, with 31 percent. Seventeen percent said López-Cantera, 10 percent Latvala, 9 percent Curry and Jacobs, 6 percent Neal.

We allow the Florida Insiders to weigh in anonymously to encourage honest answers. Their names are listed on The Buzz blog.

Out the door

Caroline Wiles, the daughter of Susie Wiles, Donald Trump's Florida campaign manager, lost her White House job as deputy assistant secretary because she was among six Trump aides who failed to pass the SF86, a Questionnaire for National Security Positions for security clearance, Politico reported. The background check includes questions on the applicant's credit score, substance use and other personal subjects. Caroline Wiles is expected to land somewhere else in the administration.

Billionaire candidate?

Add another potentially game-changing name to the prospective Democratic candidates for governor in 2018. Billionaire Palm Beach resident and former U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene.

"I've been approached by a lot of people, and I've had conversations with people that have approached me," said Greene, who lost the 2010 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate to Kendrick Meek after spending about $23 million of his own money.

Though we hear Greene has been talking to political consultants about a potential run, Greene downplayed his interest to The Buzz and said he is not actively looking at it.

"It's certainly something that I haven't ruled out if it made sense," Greene said.

Greene said he is largely focused on his "Closing the Gap" conference set for April in Palm Beach. It will explore how to improve opportunities for all of society. Scheduled speakers include former British Prime Minister David Cameron, former Apple CEO John Sculley, columnist Thomas Friedman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Razzing Crist

The big-hearted folks at the National Republican Congressional Committee last week delivered a gift box to U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg. It included a bottle of Finlandia vodka (a reference to a Politico report that he was spotted drinking Finlandia and OJ on an afternoon flight to Washington this month) and a stopwatch (since he missed one of his first votes this year because he mistimed his walk to the House floor).

Wrote the NRCC: "We've heard you have more of an affinity for Finlandia vodka & orange juice than you do for the needs of your constituents. But it's OK — correctly timing your walk to the House floor can be mentally exhausting, so we can understand what drives you to day-drink. Included are a few items that may make your last term in Congress a little more bearable. Cheers!"

It was a light-hearted attack by the NRCC, and Crist's office responded cheerfully, sending out a photo of positive press clips apparently tacked to the gift box: "Team Crist appreciates the poster board material. And there's nothing better than fresh Florida OJ. Cheers!"

The NRCC's gift delivery Wednesday seemed well-timed. That same evening Crist had planned a reception at the Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

"Cocktails with Charlie," said the invite.

Alas, that event was canceled so Team Crist did not get to serve the Finlandia.

By ADAM C. SMITH

Times Political Editor

Whom will Gov. Rick Scott appoint as chief financial officer to succeed Jeff Atwater as he steps down for a job at Florida Atlantic University? We turned to our trusty Florida Insiders for their predictions and the more than 170 politicos were all over the map.

Results of the unscientific Florida Insider Poll (rounded to nearest whole number): Lakewood Ranch developer and former legislator Pat Neal, 22 percent; Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, 15 percent; former state Rep. Tom Grady of Naples, 15 percent; state Rep. Joe Gruters of Sarasota, 12 percent; state Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon, 11 percent; Other, 8 percent; Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, 7 percent; state Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater, 6 percent; former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford of Wesley Chapel, 4 percent; state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, 1 percent; Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, 1 percent.

"Blood is thicker than water as they say so Scott is likely to pick a friend who is at least minimally qualified (Grady seems to fit the bill the best)," said one registered independent. "This might be good for Republicans politically in the U.S. Senate race if it helps Scott score some political victories on the Cabinet to make him look like a stronger leader."

Another Republican said the edge goes to Jacksonville's mayor and former state GOP chairman: "The CFO job belongs to Lenny Curry, but only if he actually wants it. He's been an unrelenting ally for Rick Scott over the years, which means he'll be a great ticket-sharer in 2018. Plus, he's a proven winner, he's got the right financial background, and few if any will outwork him."

And which choice would most help the GOP politically? Our establishment-heavy Insiders — political operatives, fundraisers, lobbyists, academics — leaned heavily to former Florida House Speaker Weatherford, with 31 percent. Seventeen percent said Lopez-Cantera, 10 percent Latvala, 9 percent Curry and Jacobs, 6 percent Neal.

We allow the Florida Insiders to weigh in anonymously to encourage honest answers. Their names are listed on The Buzz blog.

Out the door

Caroline Wiles, the daughter of Susie Wiles, Donald Trump's Florida campaign manager, lost her White House job as deputy assistant secretary because she was among six Trump aides who failed to pass the SF86, a Questionnaire for National Security Positions for security clearance, Politico reported. The background check includes questions on the applicant's credit score, substance use and other personal subjects. Caroline Wiles is expected to land somewhere else in the administration.

Billionaire candidate?

Add another potentially game-changing name to the prospective Democratic candidates for governor in 2018. Billionaire Palm Beach resident and former U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene.

"I've been approached by a lot of people, and I've had conversations with people that have approached me," said Greene, who lost the 2010 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate to Kendrick Meek after spending about $23 million of his own money.

Though we hear Greene has been talking to political consultants about a potential run, Greene downplayed his interest to The Buzz and said he is not actively looking at it.

"It's certainly something that I haven't ruled out if it made sense," Greene said.

Greene said he is largely focused on his "Closing the Gap" conference set for April in Palm Beach. It will explore how to improve opportunities for all of society. Scheduled speakers include former British Prime Minister David Cameron, former Apple CEO John Sculley, columnist Thomas Friedman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Razzing Crist

The big-hearted folks at the National Republican Congressional Committee last week delivered a gift box to U.S. Rep. Crist, D-St. Petersburg. It included a bottle of Finlandia vodka (a reference to a Politico report that he was spotted drinking Finlandia and OJ on an afternoon flight to Washington earlier this month) and a stop watch (since he missed one of his first votes this year because he mistimed his walk to the House floor).

Wrote the NRCC: "We've heard you have more of an affinity for Finlandia vodka & orange juice than you do for the needs of your constituents. But it's OK — correctly timing your walk to the House floor can be mentally exhausting, so we can understand what drives you to day-drink. Included are a few items that may make your last term in Congress a little more bearable. Cheers!"

It was a light-hearted attack by the NRCC and Crist's office responded cheerfully, sending out a photo of positive press clips apparently tacked to the gift box: "Team Crist appreciates the poster board material. And there's nothing better than fresh Florida OJ. Cheers!"

The NRCC's gift delivery Wednesday seemed well-timed. That same evening Crist had planned a reception at the Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

"Cocktails with Charlie," said the invite.

Alas, that event was canceled so team Crist did not get to serve the Finlandia.

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