Rick Scott Names Senior Staff
Around the State
Incoming Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday named retired Army Col. Mike Prendergast as his chief of staff. Prendergast, a Republican who offered a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful challenge to Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, served as an aide to former U.S. Senator Bob Graham and as a legislative liaison in the Secretary of the Army's Office.
“Mike Prendergast will operate as COO of the administration and direct the affairs of Florida government with precision and unwavering ethical rigor,” said Scott. “Moreover, Mike’s outsider status gives him the ability to evaluate and manage issues and agencies from a perspective untainted by the business-as-usual culture in Tallahassee.”
“I’m both honored and excited to be asked by Gov.–elect Scott to help execute his agenda and help create jobs,” said Prendergast. “There is no higher priority than getting Florida back to work and I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and doing just that on behalf of the governor and all Floridians.”
A Tampa native, Prendergast served in the Army for more than three decades, serving both in domestic assignments and overseas, including active duty in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. During his service, he was honored with numerous citations and medals including the Bronze Star and the Defense Superior Service Medal.
A graduate of Jacksonville State University, Prendergast received three graduate degrees -- an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Florida, an M.PA. from Troy University and a Masters of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College.
While Prendergast was an underdog to defeat Castor in November, his bid received the attention of many prominent national Republican leaders.
“Huck PAC and I are pleased to support Mike Prendergast for Congress, from Florida’s 11th Congressional District,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who moved to Florida earlier in the year, when he endorsed Prendergast back in October. “A native of Tampa, and with more than three decades of service in the United States Army, Mike Prendergast has unique life experiences that’ll help make him a great congressman.
“Recognizing that our tax system is in desperate need of a change, Mike will fight for a simpler and fairer tax system,” added Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and is considering running for it again in 2012. “Mike understands that our economy is the most important challenge facing America today, and in order to create jobs we need to eliminate the excessive government regulations and overly burdensome taxes levied on all Americans.
“We need more warriors in Congress who will fight for the American taxpayer and not waste our hard-earned dollars, and Mike Prendergast is just that man,” said Huckabee.
Huckabee was not the only potential Republican presidential candidate to praise Prendergast. So did former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in August.
“We must steer our nation back on the right course, and Mike Prendergast knows the way,” said Gingrich. “His service in the military, his experience in Washington and his genuine desire to serve the people of his hometown make Mike Prendergast the right choice for Congress.”
Prendergast also won the endorsement of former Gov. Jeb Bush.
Scott also named Mary Anne Carter to serve as his chief adviser, including responsibility of the incoming administration’s program when the Legislature convenes in March. Carter, who worked for the venerable conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, was executive director of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR), the group that Scott founded and led to oppose federal health-care laws backed by President Barack Obama.
“Mary Anne has stood side by side with me in challenging the status quo and the evils of big government,” said Scott. “I am confident she will bring the same energy, drive and desire for reform and accountability to Florida’s Capitol.”
Scott named Hayden Dempsey, who oversaw legislative affairs under Gov. Jeb Bush, to serve as special counsel, while Jon Costello, who was a policy adviser on the campaign team, was selected to serve as director of legislative affairs. Brian Burgess, who was at CPR and on the Scott campaign team handling media affairs, was named communications director.
"This complimentary team was deliberately assembled to combine Mike's skills in managing high-stakes operations, Mary Anne's in-depth knowledge of my agenda and policies, with Hayden's and Jon's abilities to get those policies passed through the Legislature," said Scott.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.