Gov. Rick Scott once again insisted on Thursday night that he has no favorite in the race for the U.S. Senate. But in a speech in Sarasota, he heaped plenty of praise of Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff and highlighted parts of his resume in surprising detail.
"I want to wish Carlos Beruff unbelievable success," Scott told more than 450 people, including Beruff, at a hotel ballroom in downtown Sarasota.
Beruff is one of five Republicans, including Scott's Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, running for the open U.S. Senate in Florida. Former CIA case worker Todd Wilcox of Orlando, U.S. Rep Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, and U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, are also running for the position that Sen. Marco Rubio is not seeking re-election to.
After listening to brief speech from Beruff, Scott went into Beruff's resume with some detail, talking about his work in questioning contracts and other expenses at the State College of Florida where Beruff is a member of the board of trustees.
"It controls the costs," Scott said of Beruff clamping down on spending at the college.
Scott followed that with more praise for Beruff's work as a member of the Southwest Florida Water Management Board.
"He did a great job," Scott said of Beruff's tenure there.
Two nights earlier Scott gave the keynote address at the Pasco County Republican Party's Ronald Reagan Dinner in New Port Richey with Lopez-Cantera in the audience. Scott spent half as much time talking about Lopez-Cantera's background and didn't provide as much of a list of accomplishments like he did for Beruff. In about 40 seconds, Scott called Lopez-Cantera a "good friend," noted he was previously the majority leader in the Florida House when the Legislature cut taxes and said he picked the right guy to be his running mate.
"I know if something happens to me Carlos can do the job," Scott said of Lopez-Cantera.
In Pasco County, Scott did not stay around for Lopez-Cantera to give his speech, leaving just as it was beginning.
Asked on Thursday night after his Sarasota speech if the two events show he's leaning towards Beruff, Scott insisted he is not playing favorites with any of the candidates.
"I'm not going to endorse in the race," Scott said, adding he thinks Lopez-Cantera has done a good job as his lieutenant governor. "I think both of them would do a good job."
Scott was in Sarasota to receive the county Republican Party's Statesman of the Year Award. Last year, Donald Trump won the award and the year before U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz received it.