By Chris Ingram
The Tampa Tribune, January 14, 2014
The best-kept secret in Tallahassee that is of zero consequence to Florida is who will Gov. Rick Scott select to be his lieutenant governor (and when will he do it).
For a guy who has built his entire political purpose around “jobs,” this is one job he can’t seem to fill. And who can blame him? The position is largely ceremonial, having only one constitutionally delegated power — to succeed the governor in the event of his death, resignation or incapacitation.
Any politician with the slightest yearning for a political future would take a pass if offered the opportunity to serve as lieutenant governor. In modern times, the lieutenant governor from Florida has never gone on to higher elective office.
This doesn’t keep Tallahassee insiders and political pundits from debating over which demographic group (women, blacks, Hispanics) Scott needs the most help with in his re-election campaign — and speculating whom he will pick to fill the biggest electoral demographic void. This is complete bunk, of course, because with the exception of the newly-minted lieutenant governor’s immediate family, pretty much no one is going to vote for Scott just because his lieutenant governor is black, or female or Hispanic.
Even though the position has been vacant for the past 10 months, a very bored media has kept the story in the news despite the fact that zero Floridians have been adversely affected by the absence of Florida’s chief funeral attendee and ribbon-cutter. On a positive note for taxpayers, not having filled the position has saved the state an estimated $416,000. Thanks, governor!
For 80 years, Florida got by without a lieutenant governor. In 1968, the state adopted a new constitution that reinstituted the position so dead county commissioners and other VIPs would have someone from the governor’s office at their funerals. Actually the constitution just mentions the part about succession, not the funerals.
Since 1969, the lieutenant governor has succeeded the governor twice.
In 1987, Wayne Mixson served three days as governor when Gov. Bob Graham resigned to assume his seat in the U.S. Senate. In 1998, Buddy MacKay served 23 days after the death of Gov. Lawton Chiles.
So for the past 45 years, we’ve been funding a full-time (now six-figure) position so someone could be ready to fill in for a whopping 26 days of constitutionally prescribed work. That’s an expensive succession plan.
Before 1968, if the governor dropped dead, the president of the Florida Senate would become the governor. Under current law, if Scott slipped on a help-wanted sign and died today, (Click here to read the full column in today’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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