By Chris Ingram
Sources close to Governor Rick Scott tell me that Scott has narrowed the field of potential appointees to fill the lieutenant governor position to just two people: Hillsborough County Commissioner/former state representative Sandra Murman and Miami-Dade property appraiser/former state representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
The position has been vacant for ten months following the resignation of former LG Jennifer Carol. Carol resigned after being questioned by law enforcement about her role in an illegal gambling operation. Carol has not been charged with any crime and later said she was “forced” to resign.
The largely symbolic position carries no constitutional or statutory authority other than as the person who is next-in-line of succession in the event of the governor’s death, resignation or incapacitation. The position comes with an annual salary of $125,000, a small staff, and an office and travel budget of approximately $500,000. The desire to attend lots of funerals of second-tier elected officials and other so-so VIPs, as well as putting on a happy face at Lincoln Day Dinners and various other events as the governor’s surrogate are job requirements.
The post is largely viewed as a political “dead end” as no modern lieutenant governor from Florida has ever gone on to further elective office.
Commissioner Murman told me this morning that she, “heard the same thing you did,” regarding herself and Lopez-Cantera being the two finalists. She had no further information other than saying she “expects an announcement will be made soon.”
Murman said she would accept the position if offered the opportunity to serve. She said she would immediately resign her position on the Hillsborough County Commission because the appointment would require doing so.
“I would assume the duties of the office, and would be required to resign,” Murman said noting it’s more than just being on the campaign ticket if selected.
Murman indicated she told Scott if she were selected she would advocate working for more responsibilities to the lieutenant governor’s position. (My column in tomorrow’s Tampa Tribune will be on this very subject).
Both Murman and Cantera have significant legislative experience which Scott could benefit from given his sometimes shaky relations with legislative leaders.
Efforts to reach Lopez-Cantera were not productive.
Scott’s decision will give some indication of where he thinks the votes are come November. South Florida, where Lopez-Cantera hails from, is heavily Democratic and the GOP’s former strength within the Cuban community is on life support. Murman comes from Tampa, which is the anchor of the swing-voter-rich I-4 corridor — and would on paper be of greater benefit to Scott than Lopez-Cantera. But either way, it is my opinion it doesn’t matter who he picks because just like very few people vote for President of the United States based on the VP nominee, no one votes for governor based on who the LG nominee is.
Check out my column on what Ricks Scott should do re: the position of LG in tomorrow’s Tampa Tribune.
Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.
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