Rick Scott Shouldn't Choose Adam Hollingsworth as Lieutenant Governor
Around the State
Almost nine months after Jennifer Carroll resigned, the latest name being floated as Rick Scott’s lieutenant governor is his own chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth.
Buzz started building that Hollingsworth could be in line for a promotion at the end of November. It grew louder when Saint PetersBlog started kicking Hollingsworth’s name around. And Friday speculation grew louder still when Scott refused to deny Hollingsworth was being considered.
"For many years, I publicly stated that I was a graduate of the University of Alabama; however, I did not complete my degree until 2009,'' Scott's top aide said in a written statement given to the Times/Herald. "I am not proud of this and I deeply apologize for this misrepresentation. I have learned from this failure in judgment and know that, over the last several years, my life and character have and will continue to grow from this."
This latest bombshell aside, Hollingsworth is certainly qualified for the post on paper. Besides his current post, he worked as chief of staff for John Peyton when he was mayor of Jacksonville. Hollingsworth has also worked in the private sector and for a few Jacksonville Democrats, including Ed Austin, Charlie Bennett and Corrine Brown. If Scott is looking for a lieutenant governor to lobby the Legislature, Hollingsworth makes sense.
But politically he does nothing for the governor, who is down in the polls against Charlie Crist. If Rick Scott needs help in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, he may as well run up the white flag now. Scott came into office as a political outsider, a sharp contrast to Bill McCollum and Alex Sink. Hollingsworth, on the other hand, is an insider’s insider with no experience on the campaign trail. As qualified as he might be for the office, Hollingsworth does almost nothing for Scott’s 2014 chances.
There’s a temptation to compare Hollingsworth to George LeMieux and Dick Cheney. After serving as Crist’s chief of staff when that governor was still a Republican, LeMieux ended up in a pivotal role in leading the search for a replacement for Mel Martinez after he resigned from the U.S. Senate. LeMieux eventually became Martinez’s replacement. While he did not run in 2010, LeMieux did try to capture the Republican nomination to challenge Bill Nelson and return to the Senate in 2012. LeMieux showed a knack for going on the attack but he made little headway against Connie Mack and bowed out before the primary. Despite all his years working in politics, LeMieux had never run for a major office before and it showed.
Cheney, of course, was in charge of selecting George W. Bush’s vice president in 2000 and ended up as his running mate. But Cheney made sense for Bush despite hailing from Wyoming, which is not exactly a politically significant state in presidential elections. Cheney had been a leading member of Congress, chief of staff under Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush’s defense secretary during the first Gulf War. With Americans concerned about George W. Bush’s experience, Cheney certainly made sense as his running mate. He was a tested politico with decades of experience.
If Scott names him as lieutenant governor, Hollingsworth would fit more into the LeMieux mode than the Cheney one. Regardless of his qualifications, Hollingsworth simply would not help Scott come November. Democrats would have a field day, as they would insist no major Republican politician would want to be associated with Scott. Crist and the Democrats could also hit Scott for twiddling his thumbs for nine months, only to choose a close aide as lieutenant governor.
Although nobody votes for gubernatorial candidates based on their running mates, they most certainly vote against them if the running mate is flawed. Hollingsworth's admission of falsifying his resume is likely to end his chances of fulfilling Saint PetersBlog's prophesy, and could even end his job. Scott has shown little tolerance for even a hint of an ethics breach among any member of his top staff.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.