Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rick Scott picks former state official, lobbyist as next elections chief

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday named Ken Detzner, a lobbyist and former state official, to be Florida's new secretary of state — a post he briefly held nearly a decade ago under former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Detzner, 59, will succeed Kurt Browning, who announced this month he was resigning and returning to his Dade City home. Browning will oversee the Jan. 31 presidential primary election before making way for Detzner, who was Bush's interim secretary of state for part of 2003.

"It's very important that we have a smooth transition," Scott said Wednesday. "Ken will do that. He has experience."

Detzner will be paid $140,000 a year, the same salary Browning received. His appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

"I'm excited. This is one of the most exciting job in state government," Detzner said.

Detzner's previous stint at the agency, while brief, was marked by one notable controversy.

He loyally supported Bush's controversial proposal to shut down the $10 million state library and donate its large collection of rare historical and obscure documents to a private university, Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale. The plan was scrapped in the face of vehement opposition from library advocates across the state, but Detzner defended the cost-cutting move.

This time, Detzner takes charge of the agency at a time when four key sections of a new state election law are stuck in the courts and cannot take effect in five counties: Hillsborough, Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry. The changes affect early voting, voter registration and provisional ballots, and any voting law changes in those five counties require federal approval to make sure they don't discriminate against minority voters.

Detzner, a Republican, worked for former Attorney General Jim Smith and was a lobbyist for the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, a trade group for the beer industry. He said he was visiting the Governor's Office recently on behalf of another client that was interested in holding a "workday" for Scott when he was asked to apply for the job.

"I said, 'Give me 24 hours,'" Detzner recalled. He pledged to be transparent and open in all dealings. "Very important to be fair and open and honest to every party that's involved there."

In addition to overseeing elections, the Department of State oversees state cultural affairs and historic preservation programs, Florida corporations and libraries. The agency has 436 employees and has a $82.2 million budget.

Rick Scott picks former state official, lobbyist as next elections chief 01/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum


    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  2. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar


    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.
  3. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  4. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  5. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.