Lenny Curry was unanimously elected chairman of the Republican Party of Florida in 2011. He succeeded popular former lawmaker Dave Bitner, who had endorsed Curry before dying of ALS the month before.
Curry is from Duval County, where he chaired the county Republican Party and is now a state committeeman. The change was made partly to allow Curry to focus on the 2014 election, especially the re-election campaign of Gov. Rick Scott.
Curry is married with three children. A graduate of the University of Florida, he was a CPA at PricewaterhouseCoopers and became a business owner in 2002, when he co-founded the professional services firm ICX Group Inc, in Jacksonville.
The News Service of Florida has five questions for Lenny Curry:
Q: Paula Dockery asked it: Are you afraid of Charlie Crist?
CURRY: No fear. We have a record to run on. Our record is one of: Since Rick Scott's been governor, over 300,000 jobs created -- the second-largest drop in unemployment in the state of Florida. There's no reason to be afraid of anyone.
Particularly there's no reason to be afraid of someone that on his watch lost about 800,000 jobs, that incurred about $5 billion in debt, and oh by the way, in 2010, when things got hot and we started to feel the heat of the economy, he decided he was going to bail out and try to move himself to Washington, D.C. So, no fear.
Q: The Florida Democratic Party has a long history of ineffectiveness and infighting. Do you see that changing under Allison Tant?
CURRY: No. (Laughs.) We just saw recently, with their annual dinner that they hosted a week or so ago, much infighting there.
One, we had state Rep. Jim Waldman tried to put forth rules that would penalize members of the Democratic Party that don't vote in line 100 percent with leadership. That's not very unified. And then they have one -- the Democratic Party has one declared gubernatorial candidate for next year, a former state senator, and that's Nan Rich, who is representative of the Democratic Party. She's a progressive, she's a liberal, and she's proud of it. And they wouldn't even give her five minutes to speak at their dinner.
So I expect the dysfunction and the infighting to continue.
Q: You certainly helped Sen. Rich with your "Free Nan Rich" campaign. Is it safe to say you'd rather run against her than any other Democrat you're likely to face?
CURRY: It doesn't matter who we end up running against. Again, we're coming from a position of strength. Rick Scott is coming from a position of strength, with the 300,000-plus jobs created. Those aren't just numbers, those aren't just statistics -- those are people that get up every day now, that have a purpose, that can not only feed their families and take care of their loved ones, but actually have a purpose every day. They're employed now, and that's under the leadership of Rick Scott. So it doesn't matter who we run against.
(The economic trends favor incumbents.) That's right. That's right. Rick Scott ran a bold campaign when he jumped in years ago, and that was "Let's Get to Work" -- 700,000 jobs in seven years. We are at over 300,000 jobs now, so he's delivered exactly what he campaigned on.
Q: Is the public perception of Medicaid expansion going to trip you up next year?
CURRY: This is the one where there were no good choices. The governor took the information before him and made the best decision that he thought that he could. And then it had to go through the Legislature, and they made their decision, and that's just the process. It is what it is at this stage. That's why we have elected representatives.
Q: Why do the Republicans dominate Florida politics out of all proportion to their percentage of the electorate? I asked Allison Tant about this last week, and she said it was redistricting.
CURRY: Republicans dominate Florida politics because we have Republican leaders and we have independent Floridians that see the asset of having Republicans in state office. And that is what we're experiencing right now, again, under Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature, which is job creation, educating our children, and making sure that we have the highest-quality teachers in schools. That's what Floridians care about, and when we're dealing with statewide elections, they get it, and they carry our message and our candidates.