While Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum have fundamental differences in how state government should be shaped for the next four years, each will face the important task of ensuring it continues to operate.
That’s why the nonpartisan research and policy group Florida TaxWatch is again publishing its “Governor’s Transition Decision Handbook,” a cheat-sheet aimed to help the prevailing gubernatorial candidate move seamlessly from the campaign to the official office.
Whoever wins on Nov. 6— whether it’s Gillum, the Mayor of Tallahassee, or DeSantis, the former Congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach — the nonprofit state government watchdog is hoping to provide a helping hand.
“We’re looking forward to helping him and his team get a quick jump from the campaign to government,” TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro said on Tuesday during remarks to media at the organization’s Tallahassee headquarters.
“The important thing is when the election is over, we can put aside those partisan differences and we look first and foremost at how Florida is second to none,” Calabro added.
Former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez, who served from 1987-1991, headed the handbook’s steering committee, which also includes other former and current electeds from both major parties.
The handbook, Martinez said, is at the very least a “guide,” for whoever wins to help them “implement their policies and organize their administration.”
Before being elected Governor in 1986, Martinez had served a seven-year stint as Tampa Mayor.
“Not enough can be said about the assistance that is required,” Martinez said, referencing his jump from local to statewide office. DeSantis or Gillum will first be tasked with hiring their immediate staff — like their chief of staff and policy and budget directors, added Martinez.
“Those are very important,” Martinez continued, noting that the Governor’s budget must be submitted to the Legislature sometime before the 2019 Legislative Session March start date.
Martinez, who was the only Republican officer elected statewide in 1986 and was forced to coordinate with a Democrat-controlled Legislature, inhabited the Governor’s Mansion in a scenario similar to what could happen if Gillum wins next week — should the House and Senate remain Republican-controlled.
“You learn to adapt,” Martinez said.
Former Democratic state Rep. Alan Williams, of Tallahassee, said for the most part, “the philosophy and all the rhetoric on the campaign trail must end,” after the election. Then, a bipartisan and unified approach is required.
Beginning to work with the Legislature, Williams added, is among “the most critical” first steps. And that’s how TaxWatch, where Williams serves as a member of the handbook steering committee, can help.
The handbook, more than 60 pages long, provides a preview of the roles an responsibilities of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, as well as a listing of “prominent issues facing Florida,” ranging from big-ticket items like public education spending to abstract but important policies like gaming and affordable housing.
The handbook was first published in 1998, when Gov. Jeb Bush was elected. It’s been revised and republished in four separate editions since.