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PolitiFact Florida | St. Petersburg Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

Jennifer Carroll isn't as much of an 'outsider' as Rick Scott claims

Trying to keep the outsider label that pushed him to victory in the Republican primary for governor, millionaire businessman Rick Scott says he has picked a fellow outsider for lieutenant governor in state Rep. Jennifer Carroll.

"We have similar backgrounds," Scott said recently. "She's smart, she wants to work hard. She's got experience in the Legislature.

"She's an outsider like I am," Scott claimed.

Carroll, who was considered as a potential running mate for Charlie Crist in 2006, has an interesting story. Let's see if it adds up to being an outsider.

Carroll, 51, was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, but was brought to the United States by her family at a young age.

She joined the U.S. Navy and rose from jet mechanic to become the top aide to an admiral. In 1999, she retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander and started a public relations firm, 3N. & J.C. Corp. She moved to northeast Florida in 1986.

Carroll already is the first black woman to be a major party nominee for lieutenant governor and just the second major party black candidate for lieutenant governor since Reconstruction. (Darryl Jones was Democrat Jim Davis' running mate in 2006.)

That makes her the first black Republican woman on a statewide ticket, and if Scott wins, the state's first elected female lieutenant governor. Toni Jennings, the first female lieutenant governor, was appointed to the post in 2003 after Frank Brogan resigned to become president of Florida Atlantic University.

PolitiFact Florida rates a claim that Carroll is the "first African-American Republican woman to be part of a statewide ticket in Florida" True.

That's a good story. Historic even. But does that add up to being an outsider, too?

Not really.

Carroll's life after leaving the Navy, it turns out, is pretty much as a political insider.

Consider:

• Carroll ran for Congress in 2000 as a political newcomer. She lost to Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown despite outspending Brown 2 to 1.

• In 2001, Carroll said she talked with Vice President Dick Cheney about a job on his staff as a "domestic policy adviser." That job never materialized.

• Later that year, Carroll was nominated by Gov. Jeb Bush to run Florida's Department of Veterans Affairs. Her nomination was confirmed by the Florida Senate.

• She resigned about a year later to run again for Congress. She lost a second time to Brown.

• In 2003, she was elected to the state House in Florida District 13, where she has served ever since. She was appointed deputy majority leader by Speaker Johnnie Byrd in 2003 and served as a majority whip from 2004-2006.

Carroll's official state House biography includes the following highlights: Republican Club of Clay County, "Top 10" Republican Award 1999, 2002; appointed by President George W. Bush to the White House Presidential Scholars Commission, 2001-2004; appointed by President George W. Bush to the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, 2004-2007; Black Political Action Committee's 2005 Vikki Buckley Political Leadership Award.

Carroll's life story certainly has some of the hallmarks of being a political outsider. She was born outside the United States and spent 20 years working in the Navy. But after retiring from the Navy in 1999, Carroll has very much made politics a key part of her life.

We find the Scott claim about Carroll being an outsider Half True.

The statement

Jennifer Carroll's an "outsider."

Rick Scott, Republican nominee for governor in statements to the press

The ruling

After leaving the Navy in 1999, Carroll has spent the past decade on the political inside. We rate Scott's claim Half True.

The statement

Jennifer Carroll is the "first African-American Republican woman to be part of a statewide ticket in Florida."

Rick Scott, Republican nominee for governor in a press release

The ruling

Carroll also would be the first elected female lieutenant governor if Scott wins. We rate Scott's claim True.

Jennifer Carroll isn't as much of an 'outsider' as Rick Scott claims 09/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 11:08pm]

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