Peter Schorsch: Will Hollingsworth pull a LeMieux?

It’s pretty clear by now that no elected Republican, other than perhaps the overly eager state Rep. Doug Holder, wants to be Gov. Rick Scott’s next lieutenant governor. The rumor du jour currently circulating along Tallahassee’s Adams Street is that Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth wants it that way.

Last week, Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger followed the lead of St. Johns County schools Supt. Joseph Joyner and took his name out of consideration for the lieutenant governor slot. This leaves just state Sen. Tom Lee and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman on the proverbial shortlist of contenders for the job.

I just can’t envision Sen. Lee leaving behind in Hillsborough his wife, who is a local judge, his young child, and his business to serve as Scott’s hatchet man. Maybe, but it’s doubtful.

As for Murman’s chances of being selected, um, I really don’t know what to think. Supposedly, one of the qualities Scott is looking for in a new lieutenant governor is for him or her to be his chief lobbyist to the Florida Legislature. Murman’s a former legislator, yes, but she wasn’t exactly a force to be reckoned with when she served in the Florida House. Then again, she does check off a few key demographics — female, from Tampa Bay, etc.

Of course, if Scott really wants a Republican county commissioner from Hillsborough, he’d be better served picking term-limited County Commissioner Mark Sharpe.

Neither Lee nor Murman seem particularly interested in the lieutenant governor’s job, either. Lee told the Tampa Tribune he’s not sure he’ll accept the post if offered, and Murman hasn’t confirmed her interest. As for the rumor that Lee has already turned Scott down, Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union reports that Lee said, “That isn’t accurate.”

But what if it is accurate that Lee doesn’t want the job and Murman isn’t interested? What do Scott and Hollingsworth do then? Who is left once the shortlist runs out?

What about the guy holding the shortlist … Hollingsworth himself?

Tallahassee is buzzing that Hollingsworth is positioning himself to “pull a Cheney” — a reference to when Dick Cheney was tasked with identifying and vetting vice presidential prospects for George W. Bush and ended up arriving at the determination that he himself was the best choice.

Or, to put it in terms familiar to Florida politics, is Hollingsworth about to pull a LeMieux? By positioning himself so that then-Gov. Charlie Crist selected him to replace Mel Martinez in the U.S. Senate, George LeMieux proved how influential chiefs of staff can be in the appointments process.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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