Who Makes the Most Sense to Replace Jennifer Carroll?

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: March 13, 2013 12:45 PM
Lt. Gov. Collage

From top left: Jack Latvala, Sandy Adams, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Gayle Harrell, Marti Coley, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Anitere Flores, Mike Fasano and Dana Young

With Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigning her position in the fallout of a federal investigation into an Internet cafe company she represented, speculation has turned to who Gov. Rick Scott will tap to replace her.

Mired in the polls, Scott’s choice offers him a chance to politically rebound. While Carroll, the first African-American Republican to serve in the Legislature, made sense for Scott as a running mate in 2010, her chances to be his running mate in 2014 faded after a tumultuous two years.

Democrats have made inroads in Carroll’s base in Northeast Florida, but there are other parts of the state where Scott faces more urgent needs to bolster his support. Despite Carroll being his running mate, Scott made little progress in wooing African-American voters. This time he could be looking at adding a Hispanic to the ticket.

Some Republicans -- including House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel -- have already shut the door on the possibility of replacing Carroll; others, including the three state Cabinet officials, would see it as a demotion. While conservatives are playing up former U.S. Rep. Allen West’s chances, that seems a very unlikely pick from Scott. Here are some of the names being kicked around in Tallahassee as Carroll’s replacement:

Sandy Adams

Hailing from Central Florida, former Congresswoman Sandy Adams would help Scott in that region. Adams has a compelling personal story. Besides being in law enforcement herself, she lost her husband, also a police officer, in the line of duty. As a leader in the Florida House, Adams is well known in Tallahassee and showed strong political skills in 2010 when she won a seat in Congress. But Adams was utterly routed by U.S. Rep. John Mica in a bloody primary that pitted two congressional Republicans against each other.

Lizbeth Benacquisto

Despite first taking her Senate seat in 2011, Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, has moved quickly up into leadership, serving as majority leader. The charismatic Benacquisto would help Scott with women and would help the governor in Southwest Florida if that's the help he needs in 2014. It probably is not. She has only been on the state political stage for two years after serving on the Wellington City Council. While well-regarded in Tallahassee, Benacquisto remains largely unknown to most of the state.

Ellyn Bogdanoff

A favorite of the business community, Ellyn Bogdanoff served in both chambers of the Legislature before losing to fellow Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, in 2012. Bogdanoff would certainly help the governor in South Florida and with women, even coming off a political loss. But with Scott looking to build bridges to teachers, Bogdanoff’s record on education could scare the governor away. Nevertheless, political consultant Randy Nielsen of Public Concepts says, “Ellyn Bogdanoff is someone Governor Scott should seriously consider. She’s socially moderate, from South Florida, and is well-thought-of as a small-business woman and legislator.”

Marti Coley

Speaker Pro Tempore Marti Coley, R-Marianna, faces term limits in 2014 and makes some sense as an understudy for Scott. Popular with the Florida House and the business community, Coley is a teacher and could help the governor’s efforts on education, including his support for teacher pay raises. Still, Coley is from the Panhandle, an area where Republicans generally do well. While Coley could make some inroads for Scott on education, she does not make much sense as a running mate in 2014.

Mike Fasano

If Scott wants to pick a lieutenant governor who would hurt former Gov. Charlie Crist, his most likely Democratic opponent in 2014, he could choose Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. Fasano -- who serves election-critical Pinellas County -- is widely respected for his nearly 20 years in both chambers of the Legislature and he is a leading policy expert and champion of consumer affairs. The Tallahassee Press Corps like and respect him. He also has a gubernatorial posture and certainly could do the job if for any reason Scott was unable to. Still, conservatives and the business community are not fans of Fasano and this pick could lead to grumblings that Scott is straying too much to the center.

Anitere Flores

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, is a rising star for Republicans. After serving in the Florida House, Flores easily moved over into the Senate. Flores is fairly charismatic and ranked as one of the Mitt Romney campaign’s leading surrogates in Florida. Flores’ Cuban heritage should help Scott with Hispanics and she comes from pivotal Miami-Dade. But, despite her efforts for Romney, Flores is not well-known outside her district. All in all, a safe pick that should help Scott to some extent with women, Hispanics and Miami-Dade. Alia Faraj-Johnson, political consultant at Sachs Media Group, says Anitere Flores "would be an excellent pick. She is a well-respected leader who appeals to a broad range of Floridians. She has been very effective and is extremely qualified."

Gayle Harrell

A veteran of the Florida House, Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie, is one of the sharper Republicans in the Legislature. She clearly wants to move up the political ladder and her name has generated some buzz as a possible candidate to challenge Democrat freshman U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. Harrell is a real fighter. While she will help Scott in Martin and St. Lucie counties, she probably does not bring enough to the table as a running mate to be a gamechanger for 2014. Look for Harrell to run for Congress.

Jack Latvala

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, is a veteran of the Florida Senate who rose to be majority leader. Picking Latvala would hurt Crist in Pinellas County and bolster Scott’s chances in the region. Latvala's Senate presidency aspirations were mortally wounded in the 2012 elections, but he remains the leader of the Senate moderates and is a favorite of the Tampa Bay Times and other liberal, mainstream journalists. Certainly he has the experience to serve in the position. Conservatives neverthless will not be happy if Scott picks Latvala.

Dana Young

Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, is a dark horse contender to be lieutenant governor but she makes a lot of sense for Scott. With House Republicans up in arms about his support for Medicaid expansion, Scott could make a peace offering by naming Young, a key ally of Weatherford, to be lieutenant governor. Still, Young is new to politics despite coming from a political family. She was first elected in 2010 and remains largely unknown outside her district. If Scott wants to score points in the House and bolster his support in Tampa Bay, an area he needs to do well in come 2014, Young could wind up with the position.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News. Nancy Smith, nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com and (850) 727-0859, contributed to the story.


Comments (11)

Thomas h Wing.
7:58AM APR 6TH 2013
Anitere Flores is the ultimate RINO. She is a high end tool for those( La Raza - big Ag - cheap labor Chamber of Comm.) who want total open borders regardless of the impact on the unemployed citizens of Florida. She has a record in Tallahassee of killing bills in the senate that ensured constrants be put on iłlegal aliens taking jobs away from BLACK FLORIDIANS who have a record 23 % unemployment in Florida. To even consider her would be a death blow to Governor Scott.
Big Mike
9:28AM MAR 16TH 2013
What about ex-congressman Allen West?
Florida Native
11:45AM MAR 14TH 2013
FASANO is the answer!!! He's early to rise and has the courage, backbone and God in his heart! He is a great man.
Conservative stinger
1:11AM MAR 14TH 2013
Adams? Thanks for making me spit coffee all over my keyboard. She is no leader, but a follower who has the personality of a cobra. She has destroyed more alliances, alienated more people and could only energize the most liberal to see the ticket defeated. She is a political hack and has only partially succeeded due to pure luck. She is an opportunist that was blinded by her own lust for power that believed her own press.
Diana Taub
12:36AM MAR 14TH 2013
The clear choices are Allen West or Anitere Flores. Allen brings the conservative vote and is supported by women and ethnic minorities. Anitere is upstanding, an attorney, has a fantastic background in the State and specifically with education. Anitere is likeable, well versed in all areas of State needs, policy, and the mechanics of the party. She represents Miami-Dade County and would bring the south end to Tallahassee! Marti Coley is great but I am not so sure she would bring a broad cross section of minority support.
Jay Tyne
10:09PM MAR 13TH 2013
Adams is known for hiring hack consultants to make up lies about her fellow Republican opponents. What she attempted to do to Mica was sickening. She has been caught in more ugly situations and would be a huge mistake not to mention she has been taking state disability for 'pain management' for years!
Richard Thomas
4:23PM MAR 13TH 2013
Dumb statement (and typical SSN smear job): Latvala is a favorite of "liberal, mainstream journalists." See: Times Union story on March 12. SSN won't allow link to be posted.
3:53PM MAR 13TH 2013
Sarah, Sarah. She's as nutty as West.
Barney Bishop III
2:14PM MAR 13TH 2013
In my humble opinion, two white guys on a ticket does not help...he definitely needs a female and a South Florida one...Aniterre Flores is a super chocie and she was my first choice last time when he first selected a running mate...former Sen. Bognadoff and Rep. Dana Young are two outstanding choices as well!
2:12PM MAR 13TH 2013
I think anyone already in politics should be jettisoned off the list. Only serious minded businessmen who are not in a business doing business with the government should be considered.

Col. Mike McCalister and Col. Allen West would both be excellent choices.
Thomas h Wing.
8:11AM APR 6TH 2013
I like "REpublicansConscience‘s suggested candidates. Mike McAllister and Allen West. Yes they are the right chices for a ConservativeRepublicanConscience that will greatly increase Scott's chances for reelection. Thanks

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