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Candidates use Rick Scott’s praise to try to boost their primary chances

Some state Senate candidates may be getting a little boost from Gov. Rick Scott.

Ritch Workman in Senate District 17 and Kathleen Passidomo in Senate District 28 have released advertisements featuring Scott. In both of the ads, Scott is shown touting their accomplishments.

“When Gov. Scott needed a big job done, he called in the Workman,” an announcer says in a 30-second spot for Workman.

“He’s one of the hardest working members of the Florida Legislature, and I got to work closely with him when we passed the single largest tax-cut package in Florida’s history,” says Scott in the advertisement.

The footage is from a public event both men attended. So is the footage used in a 30-second spot for Passidomo, where Scott is shown saying she has “shown an incredible commitment to our state and the people of her community.”

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Lauren Schenone, a spokeswoman for Scott, said the governor highlights lawmakers and their work during stops across the state. And she was quick to point out Scott didn’t expressly endorse either of those candidates.

Scott did take it a bit further during a news conference announcing tourism numbers in Fort Myers earlier this month. But again stopped short of endorsing Passidomo.

“Kathleen Passidomo is my neighbor and also is my existing state rep, and we have an election coming up and, most likely, she’ll be your state senator,” he said during the news conference. “She works very hard on your behalf.”

Even when he isn’t quoted directly, he plays a pivotal role in campaign ads. In a Florida Chamber of Commerce advertisement supporting Doug Broxson in Senate District 1, an announcer says Mike Hill “broke his word to Gov. Rick Scott and opposed Scott’s growth plan, putting thousands of Panhandle jobs at risk.

“Rick Scott can’t trust Mike Hill,” the narrator says in the 30-second spot.

It’s understandable campaigns are using Scott’s praise to try to garner support in tough primaries, said Melissa Stone, the spokeswoman for Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s political committee, and his former chief of staff.

“The governor’s policies are working to create jobs and turn the economy around,” she said in a statement. “The governor has an overwhelming job approval with Republican voters, so it is not surprising that many candidates are featuring photos or video of themselves with the governor in their ads.”

Scott had a 51 percent approval rating, according to an OnMessage and Let’s Get to Work poll released earlier this summer.

And in communities where Scott remains popular, a show of support, even if it’s just kind words at a public event, could go a long way come Election Day.

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