If there’s one thing associated with the Governor’s Day Luncheon at the Florida State Fair in recent years, perhaps even more than the governor or lunch, it’s that annual photo opportunity when Florida politicians take a slip down the giant slide.
Photos of state fairs past show former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, hand-in-hand with then-Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and then-Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, gleefully riding their special giant-slide rugs (or potato sacks or something) down the classic fair attraction.
Ties flap in the breeze, fists are pumped in celebration. Big smiles all around.
Noticeably absent from the slide for the past eight years was former Governor Rick Scott. He missed his last chance in 2018 when he declined to ride once again. Exactly why will perhaps go down as the least important, but most entertaining, mystery of his governorship.
With opening day of the fair approaching and a new governor in office, a question: will Ron DeSantis usher in a new era of Florida’s governor racing the Cabinet over the rolling plastic (or fiberglass or something) hills?
The governor’s office had not responded to giant slide questions at the time of this post.
“There’s a couple rules in politics,” Republican media strategist Rick Wilson said last year when asked about the strategic pros and cons of politicians on slides. "One is never pose with anyone wearing a clown costume. The other one is never eat anything on camera.
“I think Rick Scott may have created another one: never be photographed going down a slide.”
But, as columnist Sue Carlton wrote in a Jan. 20 column headlined “So far, DeSantis is Gov. Not Scott,” “it’s been an interesting start” for DeSantis, who entered office and swiftly made several moves his predecessor would not make.
And there’s a twist: If Florida’s new Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, takes the plunge on Thursday, it would be an opportunity for a rare bipartisan slide ride from a Republican governor who campaigned on a pledge to embrace bipartisanship and unite a divided electorate.
Also yet to be seen is whether Florida’s new Attorney General Ashley Moody will embrace sliding at the fair as part of her duties as wholeheartedly as Bondi did.