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Pam Bondi says Rick Scott deserves lion’s share of credit for Florida’s economic growth

If Rick Scott does run for the U.S. Senate this year, Florida’s rising economy will provide a critical talking point for his campaign.

But one question might be: how much credit does he deserve?

Well, all of it, at least according to Attorney General and fellow Republican Pam Bondi.

Scott and Bondi, were joined Thursday by Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, where they held a Cabinet meeting at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center Pavillion — the traditional gathering on the opening day of the Florida State Fair.

In a formal address, Cissy Proctor, the executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, explained that Florida ended 2017 on a very positive note.

Nearly 205,000 private sector jobs were created in 2017, Proctor said, making for a total of 1.5 million jobs since Scott took office in January of 2011. Those numbers indicate that Scott more than doubled his “7-7-7” plan — which he campaigned on in 2010 —  when he pledged to add 700,000 jobs in seven years.

In Florida, unemployment continues to drop; currently, it’s at 3.7 percent, down from 5 percent a year ago.

Proctor said more than 185,000 people entered the job market in 2017 in Florida, a growth rate nearly four times the national average. There were 265,000 job openings across the state as of December, with registered nurses topping the list.

The number of jobs has grown by 25 percent since Scott took over, while the national average during the past seven years sits at 15 percent, Proctor said. Florida’s labor force growth rate since 2010 has more than doubled that of the rest of the nation, she added.

Those figures impressed Bondi, who followed up Proctor’s presentation by proclaiming that Scott deserved the lion’s share of the credit for the positive job numbers.

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“We say that jobs have grown by 25 percent. That just doesn’t happen,” said Bondi, who was sitting next to Scott. “That happens because this man — every time I talk to him — he’s landing in a different state stealing businesses to bring them to Florida.”

“Governor, you have single-handedly done this for our state,” Bondi continued. “Thank you so much. You will never meet a harder working human being.”

No doubt the sound bite might play well for Scott if (or when) he becomes a candidate for Bill Nelson‘s Senate seat later this year

Nelson’s campaign declined an opportunity to comment.

Not that Scott needs the help.

Long considered one of the most unpopular governors in the nation, Scott’s poll numbers are rising when it counts — as he potentially faces voters in November.

A recent Morning Consult poll found the governor ending last year with a 58 percent approval rating; a University of North Florida survey shows Scott’s approval rating now stands at 63 percent.

Deflecting Bondi’s praise, Scott passed it on to the men and women who run businesses in Florida: “Business owners and people who take risk don’t get appreciated for what they do.”

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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