Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

Crist's lieutenant governor choice would cause outrage, if anyone cared

Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Annette Taddeo addresses supporters this month at a campaign rally in Orlando. At left is her running mate, gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. [KATHLEEN McGRORY | Times/Herald]
Published Aug. 21, 2014

This column is (sort of) about outrage.

I say (sort of) because it's really a column about the duties of Florida's lieutenant governor, a topic leading scientists have actually discussed as an antidote to outrage.

If it will help, think of Florida's lieutenant governor as the fire extinguisher on the shelf in your garage. You don't want to be caught without it in case of emergency, but you could go years without ever remembering where you left it.

Which brings us to Charlie Crist. And Annette Taddeo. And the absence of outrage.

Last month, Crist introduced Taddeo as his choice for lieutenant governor. This led to a few smiles, a couple of back slaps and a lot of yawns.

Why?

Because this sort of announcement was entirely predictable. Between them, Crist and Taddeo ensured Democrats had all the basic food groups covered. Male/female. Anglo/Hispanic. Central Florida/South Florida.

The question of whether Taddeo was actually qualified was hardly discussed because, after all, it's just the lieutenant governor.

And yet, it kind of needs to be a big deal.

While the job's day-to-day impact is entirely at the discretion of the governor, there is one critical responsibility:

Being governor-in-waiting.

Should anything happen to the state's top executive, this is the person who will assume responsibility for running Florida.

And in the case of Taddeo, that means one of the largest states in the union could possibly be led by someone who has never before held a public office. In fact, someone who has lost the only two elections she's previously entered.

Taddeo, who runs a translation business, has been a top official and fundraiser in the party but has never led a large corporation.

"It's clear the pattern these days is to pick someone whose demographics balance the ticket, particularly in a diverse state," said noted University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus. "In this case, it's easy to do because there's been so much discussion in Florida about the lack of responsibilities for lieutenant governor.

"But in the case of a death or incapacitation, people are suddenly going to realize the importance of this position.''

So is this an indictment of Crist's judgment? An indication he is more interested in appearance than substance? It could certainly be interpreted that way, although this is a minor offense compared to, say, John McCain's vice presidential pick.

And to be fair, it's not like a gubernatorial candidate is going to be choosing from the cream of the crop. Around here, the lieutenant governor's job should probably come with a Dead End sign on the door.

But it has at least attracted experienced public servants in the past. There was a former U.S. congressman (Buddy MacKay), an education commissioner (Frank Brogan), a 20-year state senator (Toni Jennings) and a Florida secretary of state (Thomas Adams). Everyone else elected in the past 40 years had previously held office.

Of course, the opposite argument is that residents are fed up with lifelong politicians and are eager to welcome fresh faces to Tallahassee.

As a matter of fact, the last winner of the governor's race in Florida also came from the business sector and never before held public office.

And look how well that's worked.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Former sheriff of Broward County Scott Israel, right, and his attorney Benedict Knuhne wait their turn to speak to the Senate Rules Committee concerning his dismissal by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Monday Oct. 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    The full Senate will vote on the issue Wednesday.
  2. Parents of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a shooter killed 17 people in 2018, push petitions for 2020 ban on assault weapons in Florida. (Miami Herald) MIAMI HERALD  |
    After months of glitches, the Department of State is resorting to a paper workaround while ballot initiatives face higher costs.
  3. U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney.
    The Naples Republican recently refused to rule out a vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
  4. Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards.  LUIS SANTANA   |   Times "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The change is a reversal of a previous move by the department, which specifically excluded armed teachers from its policy.
  5. Nearly two dozen victims of Jeffrey Epstein voiced their outrage at a hearing in Manhattan on Aug. 27, 2019. EMILY MICHOT | Miami Herald
    In the wake of several nationwide cases dealing with sexual assault and abuse, advocates are pushing Florida to ease its statutes of limitations
  6. Scott Israel, former Broward County Sheriff speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Davie, Fla. A Florida Senate official is recommending that the sheriff, suspended over his handling of shootings at a Parkland high school and the Fort Lauderdale airport, should be reinstated. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Because Israel is a constitutional officer elected by voters, state law requires that the Senate approve or reject the governor’s decision to remove him from office and gives Israel the opportunity to...
  7. El gobernador de Florida, Ron DeSantis, hace una declaración sobre el hecho de responsabilizar a los funcionarios del gobierno en Fort Lauderdale en el Complejo de Seguridad Pública Ron Cochran el 11 de enero, luego de que nombró al ex sargento de la policía de Coral Springs. Gregory Tony reemplazará a Scott Israel como sheriff del condado de Broward. (Al Díaz / Miami Herald / TNS)
    Several Senate leaders told the Times/Herald they are prepared to accept new evidence during a daylong hearing scheduled for today. They could decide against DeSantis when they vote Wednesday.
  8. District 3 City Council candidates Orlando Acosta, left, and Ed Montanari. Scott Keeler, Chris Urso
    The St. Petersburg City Council races are supposed to be nonpartisan. Partisan politics are leaking into the campaign anyway.
  9. Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Tallahassee on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, while a federal judge heard arguments for an against the the Legislature's bill implementing Amendment 4. LAWRENCE MOWER  |  Lawrence Mower
    It’s unclear how state and county officials plan on complying with the judge’s order, however. The “poll tax” issued wasn’t addressed, either.
  10. The Florida Capitol. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The job entails being a part-time lobbyist, part-time expert on the Florida Sunshine Law.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement