Rick Scott’s starting the new year by offering some reminders that, even while he can’t run for a third term, he’s no lame duck in Tallahassee.
While the economy continued to do well with tourism on the rise and the unemployment rate dropping, Scott had a few hiccups last year. Despite sizeable Republican majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, the House and the Senate were often on far different pages over the budget, redistricting, Medicaid expansion and other issues.
Scott also hasn’t endeared himself to some of the GOP leadership. Leslie Dougher, Scott’s preferred candidate, was tossed overboard at the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF). Scott simply stopped fundraising for the RPOF to focus on his Let’s Get to Work PAC and tensions are rising in Republican circles.
But Scott’s not quacking like a lame duck yet. On Wednesday, Scott offered very kind words for GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump in an op-ed that ran in the USA Today. While Scott didn’t throw his support to Trump, supporters of Florida Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio couldn’t be happy to read the governor’s words.
“I know Donald Trump personally, and while I currently have no plans to endorse a candidate before Florida’s March presidential primary, there is no doubt that Donald is a man who speaks and tweets his mind freely,” Scott wrote. “But, I don’t think his ability to give the most interesting interviews or speeches is the only thing that has him leading in the polls. I think he is capturing the frustration of many Americans after seven years of President Obama’s very intentional government takeover of the American economy.”
Pointing to his own business career, Scott slammed bureaucratic regulations emerging out of Washington D.C. that hurt the private sector and insisted he understood why frustrated Republicans were backing Trump. Scott also used his time on the national stage to showcase his own record.
“I ran for governor of Florida to turn our economy around,” Scott noted. “I pledged to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. In the last five years, we have added one million private sector jobs. We presently have almost 300,000 job openings. Housing prices have recovered, and our crime rate is at a 44 year low. Even though the politicians will scoff at the notion, we can see this kind of growth nationally if we dramatically change our approach to governing.
“It is my hope that every Republican presidential candidate will become laser-focused on job creation because I want our next president to be a Republican, and I want them to eliminate the regulations and taxes that are poisoning our country’s future,” Scott concluded. “The pollsters and pundits will keep trying to read voters’ minds. In the meantime, I am glad Republicans are frustrated. I am glad we are demanding a major change, because until we get serious about that, we will continue to get more of the same.”
That wasn’t all Scott had up his sleeves this week. With the Legislature headed to Tallahassee to kickoff the annual session, Let’s Get to Work is running ads featuring Scott promoting for $1 billion in tax cuts, including cutting taxes on manufacturers and lowering the commercial lease tax, and calling for more money for Enterprise Florida to lure businesses to the Sunshine State.
With tensions still in place between the House and the Senate and perhaps amplified as senators look over their shoulders due to the latest round of redistricting, Scott probably won’t run the table and get all that he wants. But even with most attention focused on the presidential race, Scott’s claiming his share of the political spotlight. As he starts his sixth legislative session, Scott’s showing he’s not a lame duck quite yet.
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