As the legislative session winds down this week, a key question is whether Gov. Rick Scott will veto the budget if it doesn't include the tax cuts he wanted, as appears likely.
It's a risky move, considering the Legislature has the votes to override any veto, which could make the unpopular rookie governor look impotent. On the other hand, a foil is always helpful, and Scott has already made clear he cares little for pragmatic compromise.
Certainly his rhetoric, practically taunting House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, suggest he'll veto if he doesn't get his way. Or can he take some minor tax or fee cuts and declare victory? "As we near the end of the budget process, some in the Legislature doubt these tax cuts can happen," Scott said in his weekly radio address. "I am confident they can and should get done. Tallahassee insiders ask why I am confident about this. My reply is simple: With strong, conservative legislative leaders like House Speaker Cannon and Senate President Haridopolos, I cannot imagine a budget that doesn't include tax cuts that will create jobs."
It's particularly tough for Haridopolos, running for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, to have the governor suggest he's not a conservative if he doesn't cut more taxes.
Hasner lines up help
St. Petersburg developer and top Republican fundraiser Mel Sembler will serve as honorary finance chairman for Adam Hasner's U.S. Senate campaign, and the candidate is also getting help from Al Hoffman, another top Republican fundraiser in southwest Florida.
Hasner said his wife, Jillian, a well-regarded campaign strategist, will not serve a formal role. "We want to stay married," he laughed.
Candidates' spouses are often a nightmare for campaign staffers. But imagine a candidate's spouse who is also a veteran campaign manager.
Scott on social scene
For an avowed political outsider who says he's consumed with getting Florida back to work, Scott sure likes to hang out with the beltway political establishment.
Sometimes it seems like he'd accept an invite to attend the opening of an envelope if it involved D.C. elites. On Saturday, he was scheduled to attend the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, a guest of the Washington Post, which also invited Donald Trump.
In March, he attended the Gridiron Club dinner, where Capitol journalists spoof politicians, as a guest of Scripps, and in January he attended the annual Alfalfa Club dinner, featuring more political humor for Washington insiders.
"He was invited, and the events are enjoyable," said a Scott spokesman.
Our recent governors have approached such events differently.
Charlie Crist loved to show up at glitzy Washington events, but he may not be the model Scott is looking to emulate.
Most Florida conservatives tend to ask WWJD (What Would Jeb Do?). He stayed far clear of such events.
McCalister now focused on Senate race
In last year's nasty Republican gubernatorial primary between Scott and Bill McCollum, little-known candidate Mike McCalister picked up more than 10 percent of the vote — nearly 131,000 votes in a race Scott won by 36,000 votes. Many observers speculated McCalister was the none-of-the-above choice or people confused his name and McCollum's, though McCalister dismisses that.
Now he's back and running for the Senate. Check him out at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. today on Political Connections on Bay News 9.
Alex Leary and Katie Sanders contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at [email protected]