Search for Gov. Rick Scott's No. 2 will be done in-house

Scott praises Rubio’s immigration reform focus.
Scott praises Rubio’s immigration reform focus.
Published July 10, 2013

Gov. Rick Scott said this week that the search for his new lieutenant governor will be headed by chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth, and he emphasized it will be "internal" with no vetting by outsiders.

"We're starting the process now," Scott said, speaking to reporters at the Governor's Mansion on Monday. "We'll take the right amount of time because we want to get the right person that would do a great job at this."

Scott said Hollingsworth will first develop the criteria for the ideal candidate. The post has been vacant since March 12 when Jennifer Carroll resigned.

The Sunshine State News reported last week that former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who is now a lobbyist, was assisting in the vetting of lieutenant governor hopefuls, but Scott would not confirm the accuracy of the report.

"The process is an internal process," Scott said. "It won't be done externally."

Scott: Rubio plan 'right thing'

Sen. Marco Rubio might be getting flak from conservatives for helping write the immigration reform bill that passed the U.S. Senate last month, but don't count Gov. Rick Scott among the critics.

Scott, who has his own concerns with shoring up his tea party base, said he's reviewed the legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate on June 27 by a vote of 68-32. The bill offers up to 11 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship while spending billions on border security.

Asked Tuesday about the plan, which is unlikely to pass the U.S. House, Scott said, in measured language, that it's the "right thing."

"We need to have a discussion about how we improve immigration," Scott said. "First thing we have to focus on is border security. So I'm glad they're focused on border security. If we don't have border security, it's hard to get something accomplished. But I'm glad Sen. Rubio is focused on it."

Asked again if he reviewed the plan and what he thought of it, Scott replied: "I've reviewed the plan. He's doing the right thing. He's very focused on border security. He's doing the right thing."

Graham fundraising haul

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, raised $461,000 in the second quarter, his best quarter ever, officials tell the Buzz.

But Democrat Gwen Graham came out strong, too, pulling in $375,000 in her first quarter since becoming a candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.

Graham's campaign said she has about $300,000 cash on hand. Southerland's numbers were not yet available.

The contest is one of several to watch in Florida. Freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, said this week he has $1 million in the bank after raising $520,000 for the second quarter. Several Republicans have already declared their candidacy.

In South Florida, freshman Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami, pulled in $440,000, and has $800,000 cash on hand. On Tuesday, Republican Carlos Curbelo entered the race.

Florida honors Betty Sembler

St. Petersburg resident Betty Sembler was honored as a "Great Floridian" during a reception Monday at the Governor's Mansion.

Sembler was one of the 10 founding members of Straight Inc., a nonprofit drug treatment program, and was the founder and president of Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.) and the Drug Free America Foundation Inc. During three decades of activism, she also served as a member of the Governor's Drug Policy Task Force in Florida.

Times/Herald staff writers Michael Van Sickler, Alex Leary and Rochelle Koff contributed to this report.