Jeb Bush likes to boast on the campaign trail that he used to be called “Veto Corleone,” so paramount was his mission to stamp out what he considered excessive and unnecessary government spending from the annual state budget while he was Florida’s governor.
Bush has nothing on Rick Scott.
The current Florida governor on Tuesday vetoed $461 million of government spending. It was a notable departure from a year ago, an election year, when the governor was content to put his principles of protecting the taxpayer to rest as he funded a number of programs that would sell to general election audiences.
Whether that had ultimately had anything to do with him beating Charlie Crist or not, he thought it did. And it worked.
Senate Republicans in particular, are speaking out in the wake of the onslaught of vetoes, but we’ve heard such talk before, with little to show for it. Who could forget Adam Putnam making angry noises in 2013 when Scott came out for Medicaid expansion. What happened with that?
Senators said Scott had threatened them with vetoes on certain projects because of policy disagreements, but the governor denies that was the case. Manatee County’s Bill Galvano says that the vetoes will affect Scott’s relationship with lawmakers, saying, “The cuts will still be fresh in members’ minds when they return to Tallahassee.” And then what?
We’ve heard Republicans grumble about Scott for years, but they always fall into line. OK, so the Senate resisted the governor hard on Medicaid expansion. And who won that battle?
A Quinnipiac poll released this week showed Scott once again underwater in terms of popular opinion in Florida, with just 39 percent of the public supporting him and 49 percent opposing him. That was the case for most of his first term in office.
But when it counted, on Election Day in 2010 and again in 2014, Scott had more votes than Alex Sink and Charlie Crist, respectively.
If he runs for Senate in 2018 he has to be considered a serious contender. And you can bet big time that like Bush, he’ll boast to GOP audiences about how much money he saved taxpayers with this veto pen. That may not sell with general election audiences, but consider the Democrats problems in getting anyone to beat him, it may not matter.
In other news …
Lots of developments in the CD13 race. Darden Rice is seriously contemplating getting into the contest, while former Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern says she’s definitely in, and will move from Tampa to Pinellas soon.
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Scott was busy vetoing projects all weekend, and when he made his list official on Tuesday, there were lots of agencies and organizations in the Tampa Bay area that were seriously bummed out.
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In releasing his budget just days after the Legislature presented it to him, the “Turkey Watch Report” from FloridaTaxWatch just won’t have the same bite this year.
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And lookie here: While Jeb Bush “leads” the field of Republicans in New Hampshire with all of 14 percent support, The Donald — Trump that is, is nipping at his heels with 11 percent.