If Rick Scott does not pick Jacksonville House Republican Jennifer Carroll as his running mate as Lieutenant Governor today, it'd be the greatest rope-a-dope since Muhammed Ali in the mid 1970's.
Every news agency in Florida is reporting that Carroll, who made history when she became the first black GOP female representative ever in Florida seven years ago, will be named by Scott today to join his ticket.
In many ways, she makes for an attractive ticket, as she has a number of qualities that add to Scott's resume: she has a military background, as she is a retired Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, where she served between for 20 years, between 1979-1999. She then ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2000 and 20002 before winning a special election in 2003.
She's a woman, and yes, she's black. Though having an African-American running mate didn't exactly do wonders for Jim Davis in 2006 when he selected former state Senator Daryl Jones, if you can remember.
She doesn't appear to have done much legislatively in office, though she was outspoken in the last legislative session against extending unemployment benefits.
But at the risk of spoiling the buzz, why does Scott or Alex Sink need a running partner anyhow? Or maybe you can tell me about all the good works that Jeff Kottkamp has been responsible for in the past four years? Now I do recall Toni Jennings and Frank Brogan under Jeb Bush, and they seem to have been relatively active, unlike most other Lieutenant Governors, if you can remember them at all.
To quote from a South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial from twenty years ago;
There`s no excuse for taxpayers to finance a highly-paid understudy and errand boy, a glorified ``gofer`` assigned by the Constitution only to ``perform such duties pertaining to the office of governor as shall be assigned to him by the governor ... `` In recent years, governors have assigned their running mates specific duties, such as heading up the Department of Commerce or Department of Administration.
Only once in Florida history, in 1874, has a lieutenant governor ever replaced a governor who died in office. M.L. Stearns served three years after the death of Gov. Ossian B. Hart. If it ever happened again, it would be simpler to change the Constitution to let a Cabinet officer serve as a successor for a couple of months until an election could be held to name a new governor.
Florida got along quite well without a lieutenant governor for 82 years, from 1889 to 1971. It can easily do so again.
Or you want an opinion a little fresher than that? How about from Bill Cotterell, the crack political reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat, who just a few weeks ago wrote:
This is the only job in government in which, once you win it, your work is done. The Florida Constitution provides no duties for lieutenant governors, so the only reasons for having them are to (a.) meet a legal ballot requirement and (b.) balance the ticket politically.
But it does pay $127,398 a year.
We didn't have these sentiments we admit when we wrote about Alex Sink selecting Rod Smith a few weeks ago, but after seeing Smith speak last Saturday at the Democrats Unity event, we were less certain about the validity of his running at all. At least in California, my home state, voters get to choose the Lieutenant Governor, not that the duties there are any more impressive than in Florida. Of course, it allows for some mischief, as when in the late 1970's Jerry Brown went out of state and Republican LG Mike Curb said he was taking over his duties. This is from an article recounting those days from the San Francisco Chronicle:
When Brown flew to Washington for 40 hours to testify before Congress, Curb used his authority as acting governor to appoint a judge to the presiding spot on a state appeals court, an important post. Brown was able to rescind the appointment after returning to the state because it had yet to be acted on by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, but months later the state Supreme Court found that Curb had been completely within his rights.
Now maybe if we had that scenario play out in Florida, that could be fun to watch.