Will Weatherford, Chris Spencer to advise Ron DeSantis on economic policy

DeSantis Transition 5 (2)

Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis will be getting his economic policy advice from former House Speaker Will Weatherford and GrayRobinson lobbyist Chris Spencer as he makes the transition to the Governor’s mansion.

“Your support for the incoming administration and your assistance on these important policy issues will help shape the future of Florida,” transition team head James Blair said in an email. “Each committee member brings unique experience and perspective to this process, and your contributions will be valuable.

“The purpose of this committee is to provide strategic guidance to the transition team concerning economic policy, as directed by the attached economic policy outline.  The committee will be chaired by former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Will Weatherford. The transition staff will prepare a report for the administration as they take office, taking into consideration our discussions and your counsel over the next several weeks,” the email continued.

The policy guidelines for the committee include keeping Florida a low-tax environment for individuals and businesses; providing a predictable and reasonable regulatory environment; providing a reliable and advanced hard and soft infrastructure; building a well-trained and highly skilled workforce; and fostering a responsive, efficient and accountable government.

Weatherford, a Pasco County Republican, served as House Speaker for the 2013 and 2014 Legislative Sessions.

While in elected office and in the years since, Weatherford has made it his mission to attack generational poverty in Florida, which has persisted despite an otherwise booming economy since over the past decade — a 2016 state Senate report found that nearly 15 percent of adults and 24 percent of children in the state live in poverty.

Spencer was the longtime aide to St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes before he was snapped up by GrayRobinson a year ago. He will serve as the transition team’s deputy director of economic policy.

He served as Brandes’ point man on a wide array of issues, including transportation, economic development, energy, insurance and financial regulation. He has demonstrated a deep knowledge of how tech sector disruptors could serve as economic opportunities for Florida.

He recently participated in a panel alongside state Rep. Jason Fischer and Rick Cimerman of the National Internet & Television Association where he discussed how emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles and the “internet of things” could help the state develop more connected communities.

The addition of Weatherford and Spencer to the DeSantis transition team is the latest in a series announcements from the incoming administration.

On Monday, the Governor-elect announced that Shane Strum will serve as his chief of staff when he takes office in January. Earlier Tuesday he and his wife, Casey DeSantis, announced the leadership team for their 2019 Inaugural Committee, which will be chaired by Florida and Washington, D.C. lobbyist Brian Ballard and his wife, Kathryn Ballard.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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