Florida CFO election results: Jimmy Patronis defeats Jeremy Ring

Patronis, 46, was appointed to his current role after Jeff Atwater resigned as CFO in 2017 to take a high-level job at Florida Atlantic University.
Jimmy Patronis [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
Jimmy Patronis [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published Nov. 7, 2018

TALLAHASSEE — Jimmy Patronis will hold onto the title of Florida's chief financial officer for four more years — this time without the help of longtime friend Gov. Rick Scott.

The Republican, who won about 52 percent of the votes Tuesday night, celebrated the victory among family, friends and supporters at his family's historic Panama City restaurant

"I'm so incredibly blessed by the outpouring of support by my community, as I've traveled the state to try and do right by the people," said Patronis, who was the only incumbent on the statewide ballot.

Patronis, 46, was appointed to his current role after Jeff Atwater resigned as CFO in 2017 to take a high-level job at Florida Atlantic University. Patronis beat out Democratic former state Sen. Jeremy Ring of Parkland.

Republicans have won 13 of the last 14 Cabinet races, most by large margins.

He is just the fourth person to fill the role, which was created in 2002 to consolidate state offices related to financial services. The role oversees more than 2,000 employees across 13 divisions, and ranges from the state's accounting, investment, deferred compensation and risk management programs to agencies overseeing insurance agencies, funeral homes and cemeteries. The CFO's office licenses insurance agencies and serves as the state fire marshal.

As one of the three elected members of the Florida cabinet in addition to the governor, the CFO serves alongside the attorney general and commissioner of agriculture and consumer services. The cabinet officers, including the CFO, work with the governor on matters such as the purchase of land, clemency and law enforcement.

The CFO earned his associate's degree in restaurant management from Gulf Coast Community College and his bachelor's degree in political science from Florida State University.

In 2007, Patronis' first legislative session as a representative, he became interested in healthcare and pitched ideas that piqued Scott's attention. The two became friends after an introduction from attorney and former state Rep. Juan Carlos Planas.

Though Patronis did not have much name recognition at the time, he made his mark on the future governor as one of his first supporters in 2010. In exchange for his loyalty to Scott, Patronis has been rewarded handsomely.

His current seat as CFO is the most recent of three consecutive appointments by the two-term governor. Scott first appointed Patronis to serve on the Public Service Commission and then appointed him to his self-titled "dream job": the Constitution Revision Committee.

The CFO's salary, effective July 1, is $128,972 a year.

He said that in his time serving in the role, he's been challenged in ways that will make him a fitting CFO for the next term.

"Whether it was Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Michael, challenges we've had in my own family — we've been tested in a number of ways," Patronis said. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."