Florida Gov’t Weekly Roundup: The Teams Are Set

September 9, 2018

The candidates for lieutenant governor had their 15 minutes of fame this week.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum selected primary-election rival Chris King as his running mate, while Republican Ron DeSantis tapped state Rep. Jeanette Nunez for his ticket.

http://www.northescambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/floridaweeklly.jpgBut if history is any guide, the two lieutenant-governor candidates will be quickly relegated to the sidelines. And that obscurity is likely to continue once one of them is elected along with the new governor.

It’s not the fault of lieutenant governors. It’s the nature of their position. Their only duty under the state Constitution is to succeed the governor if the state’s chief executive dies, is incapacitated or resigns.

Some lieutenant governors have been given larger roles by governors. But in recent years, that has not been the case.

The No. 2 slot is hardly a springboard for higher office. Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay lost to Jeb Bush in the 1998 governor’s race. Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp failed to win the GOP nomination for attorney general in 2010.

Ultimately, this year’s campaign and the next administration will be judged largely by the actions of the gubernatorial candidates and the next governor, not their running mates.

The lieutenant governor’s role will always be secondary. And it’s probably a wise strategy for the No. 2 not to try to outshine or contradict the boss.


DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, and Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, announced their running mates Thursday.

At a Republican Party rally in Orlando, DeSantis introduced Nunez, a Miami Republican who publicly criticized President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

DeSantis, who has close ties to Trump, dismissed talk of Nunez’ initial support for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the 2016 presidential race as he described his lieutenant-governor selection as an “accomplished” mother of three who is someone his daughter could admire.

“This is the type of person that I think is a role model for everybody, but particularly young women,” DeSantis said after the rally put on by Gov. Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign at the Ace Cafe.

The Nunez selection could help DeSantis, as Republicans try to attract women and Hispanic voters. Nunez, 46, is a Cuban-American born in Miami who has served as a top lieutenant to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, during the past two years.

Nunez, who was first elected to the House in 2010 and faces term limits this year, said she was “honored” by her selection as DeSantis’ running mate.

“We’re going to see from our end what we stand for, the ideals and principles that we stand strong in, the conservative values making sure Florida remains the prosperous state that it continues to be,” Nunez said. “I’m eager to get on the trail and explain what the differences are.”

Gillum made his announcement in a live session on Facebook, doubling down on his appeal to progressive voters by picking King.

Gillum said his first criteria in picking King, who is a Winter Park businessman, was selecting a running mate who could step in as governor if necessary.

“But we also talked about the fact that this is a difficult journey. It’s hard. It’s difficult work at times. And what we want to do not only in this race, but when we win the race for governor, is have a partner in helping to lead this state,” Gillum said.

The Gillum-King partnership is founded on a lot of similarities. Both candidates ran as outspoken progressives in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary, embracing such issues as the expansion of Medicaid, the legalization of marijuana, gun control, criminal justice reform and a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Gillum, the first African-American nominated for governor by a major party in Florida, was the surprise victor in the primary, winning the race with 34.4 percent of the vote. King, making his first bid for elected office, finished in fifth place with 2.5 percent.

After campaigning for nearly a year and half against him, King said he developed a friendship with Gillum.

“This is not a political marriage. This is not a marriage of convenience,” King said. “I came to admire him. His gifts, his talents and most importantly his vision for the state of Florida, to lift up families all across the state who have not had a champion like Mayor Gillum, who have not had someone who has spoken up to issues that the current leadership just doesn’t care about.”

STORY OF THE WEEK: Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum picked running mates for their gubernatorial tickets.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “As opposed to going in, he retreated and ran.” — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, after reviewing a video showing Scot Peterson, a school-resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, not entering the school during the February mass shooting that left 14 students and three staff members dead. Gualtieri is chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which has subpoenaed Peterson to appear before the panel next month.

by Lloyd Dunkelberger, The News Service of Florida


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