Governor Rick Scott announced today that he has named 57-year-old Martin Garcia to succeed the late Steve Burton on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. Garcia is currently the founder and managing director of Pinehill Capital Partners, a private investment firm.
Burton passed away in April from complications after a heart transplant.
Garcia is a longtime friend of Attorney General Pam Bondi, and served as her campaign manager in her successful run for Attorney General in 2010. According to a Sunshine State News report written by Kenric Ward in 2011, Garcia was part of trio of Republicans who worked on together to get Bondi elected.
Garcia was chosen over a host of other applicants, including former City Councilman and County Commissioner Tom Scott, Ret. Brig. Gen. Arthur "Chip" Diehl III, former deputy director of plans for the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base and Ret. Col. Evelio Otero, a former division chief for the Special Operations Command at MacDill and unsuccessful 2012 congressional candidate.
Other candidates included Steve Cona III, Eddie Adams Jr. and Don Phillips.
Scott will soon have another spot to fill on the Aviation Authority as current board member and retired physician Joe Diaco's term is up next month. Diaco has applied to retain his post, and the other candidates named above presumably remain in the mix.
Noted Eastern Hillsborough County GOP power broker Sam Rashid told the Tampa Bay Times Sue Carlton that he had not applied for the job, even though she wrote that rumors were strong that he would be Scott's choice to succeed Burton.
But we've now learned that Rashid has applied for a position on the Aviation Authority, and with Diaco's spot up, he could be a strong contender to be named by Governor Scott.