Who Will Be Rick Scott's Lieutenant?
Will the GOP gubernatorial nominee stay outside or go inside for a running mate? Here are possibilities ...
Around the State
Or he could appeal to GOP insiders by choosing state Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson.
Or he could pick from any number of Miami-Dade politicians to bolster his standing in South Florida, particularly among the Hispanic community.
Those are just some of Scott's options for a running mate, according to a snap survey conducted by Sunshine State News.
Respondents, who were guaranteed anonymity, represented a cross-section of the political, business and academic worlds, and their partisan orientation ranged from hard right to far left.
Scott's campaign declined to comment for this story. Prospective candidates' responses, when available, appear below.
Paula Dockery, who dropped out of the gubernatorial primary last spring, was mentioned most frequently as a like-minded iconoclast who would mesh well with Scott.
The state senator from Lakeland has been a thorn in the side of the Republican Party, challenging its legislative leadership and priorities while continuing to call attention to the nefarious doings of disgraced chairman Jim Greer.
After Scott beat party insider Bill McCollum for the nomination, Dockery submitted a press release applauding his victory and stating, "For too long, true Republican principles have been put by the wayside in favor of the special interest agendas that fund the party elite." The party refused to distribute it.
Dockery clearly likes Scott, and the feeling appears to be mutual.
"We became fast friends during the campaign. I accompanied him on his bus trip for a day, I briefed him on issues, I served as an adviser when he needed something," Dockery told Sunshine State News.
Dockery said there was early conversation about the lieutenant governor's position. "I want to do what I can do to make him successful. I don't know if that's the proper role for me. It depends on how he defines the role," she said.
An insider choice would be Charles Bronson, a multi-generation Floridian who hails from Kissimmee. The current agriculture commissioner toyed with running for governor, but ultimately dropped the idea.
Reached by Sunshine State News, the retiring Bronson said he's not sure a lieutenant governor slot would be "viable."
"I've never met Rick Scott," he said. "I'd be surprised."
Still, an executive with a leading Florida business organization doesn't count Bronson out.
"He brings with him the ag and development industries and he could serve as a party unifier -- not to mention that he brings with him a wealth of firsthand knowledge of state government and what it takes to run an efficient Cabinet. Bronson is respected across the state and his resume speaks for itself," the executive said.
Another familiar name cropped up: Toni Jennings.
Jeb Bush's former lieutenant governor remains popular in Republican circles. "She has all the experience, and though she's an insider, she's the right kind of insider, a Jeb Bush Republican," said one recommender.
Kim Berfield, a former state representative from Clearwater, is highly touted by a prominent member of the business lobby.
"She can definitely go toe to toe with Rod Smith in debate. She is bright, articulate, understands the legislative process and has been successful handling difficult issues as a legislator and now with the state Department of Health," this executive said.
"She's from the west coast, where there was a very low turnout. And she doesn't have baggage."
If Scott is looking for ethnic balance, there's a potential treasure trove in Miami-Dade County, where he performed poorly in the primary.
Julio Robaina, the popular mayor of Hialeah, is widely admired and politically connected. Not to be confused with the state representative of the same name, Robaina has balanced the city's budget and enjoys wide voter support in Miami-Dade's second largest city.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez represents a much bigger voting bloc, but he comes with baggage. Alvarez has struggled with the county's $427 million budget deficit and he was the target of a recall effort last year. He also took heat for granting double-digit pay raises to top county employees -- many of whom already made more than $100,000.
A spokeswoman for Alvarez said, "The mayor has no comment at this time. To our knowledge, the Scott campaign has not reached out to the mayor or his office."
Like Mayor Robaina, state Rep. Anitere Flores comes highly recommended. The Miami resident was deputy majority leader in the House last session and, at age 33, is considered a rising star in the party.
"She would also allow (Scott) to reach out to the Hispanic community which is nervous about his stance on immigration," said one Florida advocate who also happens to be Hispanic.
Flores said she would be "honored (to be considered), but I haven't heard from (Scott) ... yet."
Another Miami legislator, Marcelo Llorente, was mentioned as an up-and-comer from South Florida. He was first elected to the House in 2002.
An intriguing and well-regarded prospect is Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Jacksonville. Carroll, the first Republican African-American female elected to the Legislature, chaired the House Economic Development Policy Committee last session.
Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones offers local and state experience, with a business background. Before his election to the commission in 2007, Quinones was a state representative for five years.
A Republican consultant who recommended Quinones called him "pro-business and pro-freedom."
Then there's Mike McCalister, the retired Army colonel, who may have propelled himself into the lieutenant governor sweepstakes by pulling a surprising 10 percent of the vote in Tuesday's primary.
The Polk County resident who waged an all-but-invisible campaign has said he would consider being Scott's running mate if asked.
Contact Kenric Ward at email@example.com or at (772) 801-5341.