A day after state Sen. Tom Lee indicated he would enter the race for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Gov. Rick Scott committed to helping current CFO Jimmy Patronis stay in the position.
“I’ve known Jimmy for a long time. I appointed Jimmy because I think he’s going to do a really good job as the CFO,” Scott told reporters after holding a press conference touting July jobs number at a Honda dealership in Brandon.
“He’ll have about a year and a half to be in office,” Scott added. “I know he’s considering whether he’s going to run or not. If he runs, I’m going to be a big supporter.”
Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican and former Senate President, indicated this week he will announce his candidacy for CFO this fall. When asked if he would endorse Patronis over Lee, Scott replied, “I’ll do everything I can to make sure he wins.”
Officially, Patronis has not announced whether he’ll run next year.
“I’m putting a lot of thoughts and prayers into it, but it’s a possibility,” Patronis said after the news conference, in which Scott gave him (and House Speaker Richard Corcoran) the opportunity to advocate for a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority vote before future the Legislature can raise any taxes or fees.
Over the years, Scott has rewarded Patronis for his loyalty. The Panama City Republican, restaurateur and former state representative was an early supporter of Scott when, as a largely unknown political quantity, he ran for governor in 2010.
In 2014, Scott appointed Patronis to the Florida Public Service Commission, and in March he named him to the state’s Constitution Revision Commission.
He was named CFO by Scott in June, to finish out the term of previous CFO Jeff Atwater, who left early to become CFO of Florida Atlantic University. Patronis then stepped down from the PSC and CRC.
Scott also is likely to be on the 2018 ballot, considered an eventual challenger to Bill Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat.
On Friday, Scott criticized Nelson for his support of the Affordable Care Act. The governor trashed the bill as “a disaster,” saying that Nelson has done nothing to try to reform its various problems.
Other Tampa Bay Republican House members who attended the event included Chris Sprowls, Jamie Grant, Jackie Toledo, Ross Spano and Amber Mariano.