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PR campaign for John Armstrong confirmation in high gear

The Rick Scott-led PR campaign to confirm Dr. John Armstrong as the state’s surgeon general and Secretary of Health continues apace.

As of Monday, Scott’s press shop and that of the Health Department had sent out at least 20 ICYMI emails (“in case you missed it”), with a different individual or organization encouraging the Florida Senate to confirm Armstrong as the state’s top doc.

Those groups, for instance, include the Florida Academy of Family Physicians and American College of Surgeons.

His nomination is up before the Senate’s Ethics and Elections Committee at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Sen. Garrett Richter, the committee’s chairman, last week said Armstrong’s confirmation hearing was postponed because several members still had questions and “wanted to meet one-on-one to have more extended conversations” with him.

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Armstrong’s confirmation has proven a Sisyphean task, having squeaked through the Senate Health Policy Committee on a 5-4 vote.

He’s faced skepticism of his leadership, with lawmakers questioning the state’s growing rate of HIV/AIDS and the slow implementation of the state’s medical marijuana law, which is rolling out under his watch.

Armstrong’s latest hearing comes on the final day committees can meet under Senate rules. Only the Rules committee itself can meet after Tuesday.

If Armstrong doesn’t get confirmed this year, he’s out: Senators did not confirm him last year after he declined to answer questions about Medicaid expansion.

Armstrong, a trauma surgeon, also is a cancer survivor. Last year, he disclosed his colon cancer diagnosis in a note to department employees.

Before his appointment, he was chief medical officer of the University of South Florida Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation and an associate professor of surgery at the university, according to his online biography.

He also has been trauma medical director at Shands-University of Florida Medical Center in Gainesville.

Armstrong is a graduate of Princeton University, the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and the Army Command and General Staff College. He completed his career in the Army Medical Corps in 2005, attaining the rank of colonel.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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