Tuesday, September 18, 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.

Comments
Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Two things you need to know about Florida’s prison budget:1. It was $2.3 billion this year.2. It was still not enough.Kind of staggering when you think of it that way, huh?We keep spending more and more on housing prisoners, and it’s like throwing mo...
Published: 09/18/18
Kavanaugh to testify after denying sexual assault allegations

Kavanaugh to testify after denying sexual assault allegations

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said Monday he was willing to speak to a Senate panel to "refute" an allegation he sexually assaulted a woman while in high school, after his accuser said via her attorney that she was ready to testi...
Published: 09/17/18
California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in subu...
Published: 09/16/18
Cuban refugee numbers plummet in Tampa area with cuts at Havana embassy

Cuban refugee numbers plummet in Tampa area with cuts at Havana embassy

It’s been nearly a year since the U.S. embassy in Havana suspended processing requests from people hoping to leave the island nation as refugees. The reason: Staffing was reduced to a skeleton crew in the wake of mysterious health attacks on em...
Published: 09/17/18
Romano: Rick Scott’s do-it-yourself guide to rigging a Supreme Court

Romano: Rick Scott’s do-it-yourself guide to rigging a Supreme Court

His time in Tallahassee is coming to an end. Eight years of triumph or shambles, depending on your point of view. And yet, Rick Scott’s legacy may not be written until his final minute as governor.For several years, Scott has been plotting a judicial...
Published: 09/15/18
Fraying Ties With Trump Put Mattis’ Fate in Doubt

Fraying Ties With Trump Put Mattis’ Fate in Doubt

WASHINGTON D.C.? — Back when their relationship was fresh and new, and President Donald Trump still called his defense secretary "Mad Dog" a nickname Jim Mattis detests ? the wiry retired Marine general often took a dinner break to eat burgers with h...
Published: 09/15/18
Carlton: The mayor, the restaurateur and the giant statue that had to go: A Tampa tale

Carlton: The mayor, the restaurateur and the giant statue that had to go: A Tampa tale

You would have thought the controversy over whether chickens should be left alone to keep boldly roaming the streets of historic Ybor City — and the impressive pro-chicken lobby that showed up to argue on their behalf — would be the quintessential on...
Published: 09/15/18

5 takeaways from Paul Manafort’s plea agreement

Five takeawaysWASHINGTON — Paul Manafort’s agreement to plead guilty and cooperate with the special counsel marks a milestone in the investigation led by Robert Mueller. Here are several key elements:Mueller knows more than we doThe public doesn’t kn...
Published: 09/14/18
Clearwater voter forums will discuss referendum on strong mayor charter change

Clearwater voter forums will discuss referendum on strong mayor charter change

CLEARWATER — Residents can hear varying perspectives on the Nov. 6 referendum on whether to change Clearwater’s form of government into a strong mayor system at two upcoming forums.The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce will host a forum Monday ...
Published: 09/13/18
Woman who says she exchanged sex for rent with Hernando commissioner describes political alliances

Woman who says she exchanged sex for rent with Hernando commissioner describes political alliances

BROOKSVILLE — Valerie Surette, the woman at the heart of prostitution-related charges against former Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, told Sheriff’s Office detectives in March that he frequently talked to her about county business. In a r...
Published: 09/12/18