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Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis will seek four-year term in 2018

Panama City restaurateur, former PSC member and lawmaker eyes run<br>

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis confirmed Wednesday what has been expected for a long time: He will seek a full four-year term in 2018.

Patronis, 45, of Panama City, is a former Public Service Commission member and Republican House member whose family name has long been synonymous with Captain Anderson’s, an iconic seafood restaurant. Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the powerful Cabinet post following the resignation of CFO Jeff Atwater.

“Governor Scott appointed me to this post in June and I continue to work closely with him to guard your state tax dollars from fraud and abuse, and make sure government regulations are fair and predictable for Florida job creators,” Patronis wrote in a letter to friends and supporters under a letterhead that said “Join Jimmy”. “I get up every day excited to do this job. I love what I do.”

Republican state Sen. Tom Lee of Thonotosassa has already declared his candidacy for CFO, setting up a primary race next August. Lee ran unsuccessfully for the position in 2006.

Democrat Jeremy Ring, a former state senator from Broward County, also is in the race.

Patronis has scant name recognition, has never run statewide and hails from one of the state’s smallest TV markets. But he was an early supporter of Scott in 2010 when few people knew the former HCA executive and his close alliance with the two-term governor is a valuable political asset.

Patronis is a rare “three-fer” who has received three powerful appointments from Scott, to the PSC, Constitution Revision Commission and Cabinet. Scott has twice appointed Patronis‘ wife Katie, a real estate agent, to the Gulf Coast College District Board of Trustees in Panama City.

Money is critical in down-ballot races for the Cabinet, and Scott is expected to give Patronis’ fund-raising efforts a big boost.

The announcement of Patronis’ candidacy, a day before a major Republican fund-raiser in Orlando on Thursday night, was made by Melissa Stone, a Scott adviser and his former campaign manager and chief of staff. Patronis’ candidacy papers were expected to be submitted Wednesday to the state Division of Elections in Tallahassee.