The decision on whether to appoint state Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, to finish the term of late Pasco tax collector Mike Olson can't be an easy one for Gov. Rick Scott.
Why would he want to reward a non-team player like Fasano, often a loud critic of the governor? On the other hand, what better way to dispatch of a pesky legislator with a knack for publicity than sending him into a low-profile office far from Tallahassee?
When Fasano met recently with the governor's chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, to discuss the appointment, Hollingsworth made a point of reminding Fasano of how often he had veered off the reservation since Scott became governor.
"He certainly did. We had a very frank discussion, and he made that very clear that over the last few years I've not been very supportive of the governor as they had hoped I would," Fasano said in a Political Connections interview airing today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9. "But you know when I see something wrong … or some policy in Tallahassee that's going to have an ill effect on the constituents, especially back in the Tampa Bay area, I'm going to voice my concern, I'm going to say no to it, I'm going to fight against it."
Fasano is not especially confident he will receive the appointment, but sounded a bit sad about the changes he has seen in Tallahassee since he was first elected to the Legislature in 1994.
"More people, more legislators had an independent voice, being able to speak out without being punished, being able to get their bills passed without being punished in some way if they did speak out against an issue, if they didn't follow (their party's) leadership. That has changed in Tallahassee. The independent voices in Tallahassee have pretty much gone away, especially in the Florida House of Representatives. There are very few consumer advocates left in Tallahassee fighting for the little guy and gal."
Also featured on Political Connections today is Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
Day after day, the Republican Party of Florida gleefully skewers Charlie Crist's record as a former Republican governor with a feature it calls "This Day in CRIST-ory." It highlights flip-flops, policy shifts or criticism of Crist from the same Democratic Party that Crist has embraced in anticipation of his possible run for governor next year.
The GOP took its strategy a step further Thursday by claiming ownership of the dormant website emptychaircharlie.com, which the Florida Democratic Party created in 2008 as a platform to criticize Crist for his extensive travels and for what Democrats saw as inattention to his responsibilities as governor.
In a release, the Republicans said: "The site's sole purpose will be to archive and post previous Florida Democratic Party press releases and other materials attacking Crist's tenure as governor and his open campaign to be John McCain's vice president."
Rubio and abortion
Sen. Rubio may be looking for something — anything — to move past immigration but he is not racing to abortion.
More than two weeks have gone by since the Weekly Standard made a splash with a report saying Rubio "agreed to be the lead sponsor of a Senate bill to ban abortion after an unborn child is 20 weeks old." Rubio's office never went that far but acknowledged he was talking with groups about the issue.
But there's no bill and Rubio isn't sure he'll be the leader. "There are other members working on that as well," he said Wednesday.
Jeb Bush reunion
Alums of the Jeb Bush administration, including Toni Jennings, Frank Brogan and of course the big guy himself, will gather at Disney World July 27-28 to catch up, raise some dough for the Foundation for Florida's Future and, we presume, spend plenty of time encouraging a presidential run in 2016.
Why Lee is running
State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said when he decided earlier this month to run for Senate president, he did so because other lawmakers in Tampa Bay were running for the same post.
"I've been calling a few members, which is actually when I learned a couple have made a commitment to Sen. (Wilton) Simpson," Lee said, referring to the Trilby Republican. "I know Simpson is running very hard, and so is Bill Galvano."
Lee was Senate president from 2004-2006 and was elected back to the Senate last year after Ronda Storms left the seat to run unsuccessfully for Hillsborough County property appraiser.
The 51-year-old home builder said he is seeking the presidency in 2020 (where he would preside over the 2021 and 2022 sessions). Even though he concedes it's too early to run (Lee would have to win next year's election, plus a second in 2018), Lee said he felt compelled to announce now because others were already running.
"They've forced me to run," Lee said.
Steve Bousquet, Alex Leary and Michael VanSickler contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at [email protected]