Thursday, February 22, 2018
Politics

Search for new lieutenant governor of Florida moving slowly

Gov. Rick Scott's top adviser says the search for Florida's next lieutenant governor is moving ahead slowly and privately with the focus on finding someone who can be "a steward of the governor's vision and character."

In his most detailed comments on the subject to date, chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth said the only two people engaged in discussions about the subject are himself and the governor. Speculation beyond that is just that, he said, calling it "an interesting parlor game" in Tallahassee. The job of lieutenant governor, reinstituted in 1968 after a long absence, has no specific duties prescribed by law.

"Ultimately, it's a stewardship decision," said Hollingsworth, who's directing the search process at Scott's request. "The single most important criteria for a lieutenant governor is someone who, God forbid, would be capable of performing the functions of governor if that were required."

Hollingsworth said there's no timetable for a decision. "There's no reason to set a deadline," he said. "We're going to take the right time to pick the right person."

He says the search will focus on finding someone who has "the same policy mind-set as the governor, has the same vision for moving Florida forward, and would do it with an integrity that is consistent with the governor's character." He insists there's no "short list" of potential picks and declined to get into a discussion of names.

Scott is not required to pick a lieutenant governor until next September. But he will need to move faster than that if he envisions a political partner who can help him on the campaign trail. For now, the delay serves Scott's interests, as he waits to see how the Democratic field of gubernatorial candidates shapes up. Plus, if his poll numbers (and likelihood of winning re-election) improve, the appeal of the job will escalate, creating a wider pool of candidates.

Hollingsworth says he's prepared for what he called the "color commentary" of politicians, pundits and lobbyists offering opinions of potential successors to Jennifer Carroll, who resigned March 12. "It could become a distraction if it's not managed properly," he said.

'Sexist name calling'

The Republican Party of Florida has fired off a bunch of releases recently referring to Democratic Chairwoman Allison Tant as TANT RANT. On Wednesday, the state GOP sent releases referring to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as "Debbie Dunce."

Sexist? Offensive?

"What exactly is the Republican Party of Florida's problem with female politicians? From 'Debbie Dunce' to 'Tant Rant,' Lenny Curry and the RPOF has repeatedly attacked women in language that they would never use for a man," said Tant. "This is mudslinging of the lowest order. Attempting to discredit female leaders by referring to them as 'ranting' or attacking their intelligence is offensive at best and sexist at worst. When the Florida GOP keeps resorting to juvenile and sexist name calling, it's hard to take their outreach to women seriously."

In 24 hours, the Democratic Party said, more than 6,000 had signed a petition calling on "the Florida GOP and Chairman Lenny Curry to apologize for his and his organization's repeated sexist remarks."

Gaetz strategizes

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, has already said he wouldn't change "one damn comma" of "stand your ground," a comment that left critics wondering if they'll get a fair shake when the committee Gaetz is chairman of holds a hearing on the self-defense law.

Now this: Gaetz will host a conference call that is being promoted as a strategy session ahead of the hearing. "All Republican, tea party, 9/12 groups" are invited to join the call, giving critics another reason to question whether Gaetz really intends to oversee an honest review.

"If he's the chairman, he's supposed to be fair and balanced and open," said Rep. Alan Williams, a Tallahassee Democrat who filed legislation to repeal "stand your ground."

Gaetz said he is listening to both sides.

"I encounter people every day who have a viewpoint, and most folks aren't shy about sharing it with me," Gaetz said.

Clark against purge

Pinellas County elections supervisor Deborah Clark said she won't participate in Gov. Scott's latest effort to purge ineligible voters from the rolls, because she doesn't trust the state's ability to avoid picking off eligible voters.

Never in her 13 years as elections chief has she seen a case of voter fraud, she says in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. The Republican also discusses the St. Petersburg mayoral race, the rise of absentee voting and more.

Tia Mitchell contributed to this week's Buzz.

Comments
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. That’s because a ban deals only with fut...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA — One highlight of a congressional delegation’s visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple...
Published: 02/21/18
Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

We’ll take "surprising side gigs" for $1,000! "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek will moderate a debate among Republican hopefuls vying for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination.The longtime game show star will be questioning candidates at an Oct. 1 for...
Published: 02/21/18
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

SPRING HILL — A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition canceled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under former P...
Published: 02/20/18
Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an attorney Tuesday with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official. A charging document filed in federa...
Published: 02/20/18
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Published: 02/20/18
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18