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Backroom Briefing: Scott Gets Chilly Reception

January 18, 2018 - 1:45pm

Winter weather, which shut down much of Louisiana on Wednesday, put an abrupt end to Gov. Rick Scott’s half-day business-recruitment excursion to the Pelican State.

The cold front that swept across the nation resulted in little media interest for a planned afternoon press conference in which Scott was expected to continue belittling Louisiana’s economic direction.

On Tuesday, Scott had used the mission as a chance to attack Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“While we are fighting to cut taxes and make it harder for politicians to raise taxes in Florida, Louisiana is doing the exact opposite,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “In fact, for nearly two years, Governor John Bel Edwards has been continuously working to raise taxes instead of reaching a long-term solution for their state’s financial crisis.”

Before Scott’s jet was in the air, Edwards’s office dismissed the trip as a “fundraiser” and noted that many people in Scott’s inner circle worked for former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“Rick Scott was Bobby Jindal’s biggest cheerleader and surrounds himself with the same set of advisers who turned Louisiana’s $1 billion budget surplus into a $3 billion budget deficit,” Edwards’ office said. “We’re happy to have him visit Louisiana and see for himself all that Gov. Edwards has done to turn this state around --- record low unemployment, higher wages, historic economic development announcements and stabilized funding for higher education. However, Gov. Scott should call this what it is --- a fundraising stop on his yet-to-be announced U.S. Senate campaign. Louisianans would appreciate the honesty and hope that he’ll take his political contributions and leave.”

Scott held business-development meetings Wednesday morning, according to his official schedule, with officials from property management company HRI Properties, digital marketer Search Influence, engineering firm Waldemar S. Nelson & Company, Inc., and Smoothie King Franchises, which already has numerous locations throughout Florida.

Scott’s pre-trip announcement was in line with the approach he took before business-development trips in past years to Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, California and Kentucky. Each of those states had Democratic governors at the time of the trips.

Scott also took on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama, rather than Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner before a trip to Chicago in October.

When Scott made similar excursions last year into Nevada and Tennessee, states with Republican governors, there was little pre-travel ballyhoo.


An endorsement from President Donald Trump is probably the biggest coup for a Republican candidate trying to garner support from conservative, base voters in a statewide primary election.

But a resounding thumbs-up from conservative media icon Sean Hannity is arguably a runner-up.

And that’s what U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis scored, with Hannity, who has a condo in Naples, telling the Palm Coast Republican, “You’re going to be my future governor, I hope,” during a radio interview.

DeSantis is running in the Republican primary for governor against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who’s amassed a considerable campaign war chest as he serves up Florida OJ at his “Up and Adam” breakfasts throughout the state.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, also is toying with a run for governor.

Putnam’s made a noticeable pivot to the right as he gears up for the August primary. But DeSantis has received very public support from Trump and Hannity, which could help with GOP voters.


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum grasps the unwritten rules of friendly wagers between cities and states over sports bets.

Typically, elected officials on both sides offer something symbolic to play up their communities.

When the University of Central Florida defeated the University of South Florida last year, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn made good on his bet with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer by wrapping himself In a UCF flag before the flag was hoisted above Tampa’s City Hall.

Buckhorn also had to send Dyer a case of Cigar City Beer and cigars. Dyer, had he lost, would have put the USF flag over his city hall, while providing beer from Orlando Brewing and a “cornhole” board from Victory Tailgate.

Scott, who gets leeway in representing the entire state, usually will offer a Key Lime Pie from Kermit’s in Key West, regardless of where a team is from in Florida.

Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, jumped on the bandwagon this week of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who will play the New England Patriots in an NFL playoff game. Gillum’s campaign announced Tuesday that he has wagered a collection of Tallahassee craft beers against former Newton, Mass., Mayor Setti Warren, a Democrat running for governor of his state.

“The Jaguars are making history in 2018 and I’m looking forward to Mayor Warren begrudgingly shouting out ‘Duuuuuvaaaaal’ when he sends our winnings to the Sunshine State,” Gillum said in a release.


Warren is offering a case of White Lion Pale Ale, which comes from Springfield, Mass.


Scott is still widely expected to challenge Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in a U.S. Senate race in November. But  prominent Republican strategist Roger Stone wants retired wrestler and Clearwater resident Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, to get into the ring.

Stone, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, said he’s trying to persuade Bollea to challenge Scott for the Senate nomination.

“At a minimum, I hope to convince Hogan to body slam Scott in every debate,” Stone said in an interview with GOP consultant Patrick Slevin. “If the governor is under the impression that his personal responsibility for $1 billion in Medicaid fraud is no longer an issue, he’s wrong."

TWEET OF THE WEEK: “The FL House begins floor session every day w/prayer, so I invited atheist minister Tee Rogers from @UCF to deliver a SECULAR INVOCATION! TY @richardcorcoran for being inclusive of all faiths, including humanists, non-religious/atheist Floridians!” --- state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (@CarlosGSmith), an Orlando Democrat.


Can't save 'em all Governor; and it's not even worth trying.... You're a "shoe-in" for the "Ride along rocketeer, Senator Zippy Nelson's" seat in Congress... Louisiana, historically corrupt at every level, can only bring "change with its own feet"; by "moving out" just like New Yorkers, New Jerseyites, Califirnians, Illinoisans, and other badly governed States have already learned...

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