No. 1 on the list of Florida Politicians of the Decade: Rick Scott

POTD_Rick Scott
Scott reshaped Florida's economy and its governance.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s role in Florida politics this decade has been more impactful than any other elected official since 2010.

Scott is not only undefeated in elections — he’s three for three — he also reshaped the state’s political climate and economy. He led Floridians through the most challenging economic recovery since the Great Depression.

“He was the first Governor to really try to pull the economy and the issue of jobs together,” said lobbyist and Scott’s personal friend Bill Rubin. “He used his jobs metric to really take the first hard look at what Florida really needed to do.”

Early on, Scott dubbed himself the “Jobs Governor,” pledging to create 1 million jobs throughout two terms, a goal he met nearly two years ahead of schedule.

Scott aggressively ensured Florida maintained a low-tax state image with business-friendly policies and limited, but not reckless, regulations.

Scott also sought to improve the state’s bond rating. By the end of his tenure as Governor, the state’s credit rating jumped to an AAA, one of the highest scores possible, with a stable outlook to eventually achieve Moody’s highest bond rating.

Scott accomplished that by paying down state debt — he claims he paid off $9 billion — and putting more money into state reserves.

“That saved hundreds of millions of dollars on the cost of borrowing for the state,” Rubin said. “He took Florida kind of ahead of where the country was during a tough recession.”

In addition to his work to reshape Florida’s economy during the Great Recession and into its economic recovery, Scott also implemented a shift in political campaigns and elected governance.

“I think there is sort of an anti-establishment ethos in Florida,” said Chris Hartline, Scott’s director of communications in the Senate.

That ethos is one quite possibly a byproduct of Scott’s unlikely 2010 campaign. He came to the race as a political outsider, a successful businessman who identified problems with Florida’s system of governance and wanted to tackle it the way he would in business. It was a strategy that was not unanimously backed, Democrats, in particular, rejected the idea that government can be successfully run as a business. But by Scott’s own metrics, it worked.

“That is certainly a big part of his legacy — showing that you don’t have to be part of the political establishment to win in Florida and, in some cases, it’s even a disadvantage to be part of the political establishment,” Hartline said.

In some ways, Scott’s success in the 2010 election, and then again in 2014, was a precursor to the 2016 presidential election that saw many political analysts jaws drop at Donald Trump’s landmark victory over Hillary Clinton. Like Scott, Trump touted himself as a successful (and wealthy) businessman. If he could manage that, surely he could handle the government.

Because of Scott, Trump found a friendly state in Florida where voters, those who approved of Scott anyway, were thrilled to support a political outsider.

Scott had other lasting effects on the state, too.

Scott grew up poor and lacked access to the type of education he would later be able to provide for his own children. Because of that, he made growing and improving Florida’s public college system, including community colleges, a priority.

He launched a program requiring colleges to offer specific bachelor’s degree programs for $10,000 or less. However, the program might not have been as successful as Scott would have liked. As of early 2017, more than 16,000 students were enrolled in the cheap college programs, but the number graduating at or below the $10,000 threshold was actually far lower because of the program’s reliance on scholarships and other fee waivers, which might not be available to enough students to cover demand, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Still, Rubin commends Scott on his efforts.

“I think he did a lot to make the college system more affordable and he did a lot to get the universities to focus on STEM education,” Rubin said, noting the career marketability of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

As for his new term as a United States Senator?

“ I think his real highlights are yet to come,” Rubin said. “He’s come a long way. I think a lot of people thought he would not do well in a collegial, slow-moving system, but he adapts to environments. He knows what it takes to build a coalition of people who will vote with him. I think in a way, he is on track.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


26 comments

  • Mary Pezzi

    January 3, 2020 at 11:49 am

    What a crappy Governor. Rick Scott is a climate denier… probably because he liked the money rolling his way for REMOVING the words “Climate Change” from every Florida website. The crooked founder of a very large hospital group, Rick Scott is the snake that pleaded the 5th 44 times, and then authorized the biggest settlement payment in the history of MEDICARE FRAUD. Ron DeSantis has already shown himself to be far better. DeSanto immediately got rid of South Florida water management commission that was sold out to big sugar. He also named a SCIENTIST to oversee the green algae crisis, and put him in charge of our Florida Environmental Protection Agency. They are both Republicans, but I would actually vote for DeSantis to be re-election. I hated to see Rick Scott become a US Senator, but at least we finally shipped him out of Florida!

    • Donald Drechsler

      January 3, 2020 at 3:41 pm

      Of course you like Governor DeSantis better he acts and governs like the establishment he is. He stands for nothing so he will fall for anything. He wants to be liked, but like all republicans before he will find out it will not help him. The only thing positive about Ron he better then the democrat clown he beat.

      • Bunnell Boy

        January 3, 2020 at 7:45 pm

        So right!

      • Linda

        January 4, 2020 at 4:55 am

        Ron Desantis has done a great job for Fla in the short time he has been in office. This is the first time in decades that red tide has been minor compared to years of water ways and beaches being cover in slime and dead fish. DeSantis has been a great improvement for Fla! Go Ron make Fla great again!🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    • Bob Smith

      January 4, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      Florida was sold to big business. Tax cuts and incentives.
      Not one word from Scott about state employees during his tenure.
      Look up how many state employees are also receiving some type of public assistance.
      Also look up what happened to the federal rapid transit funds that were rejected. And who stands to benefit now…..
      DeSantis just another trump clone.

    • Park Brady

      January 6, 2020 at 11:43 am

      It amazes me how single issue people are so self absorbed in their personal opinions. So much so that they cannot see the other side or maybe the good things that have been done. Florida was going the way of other states like New York and California. Now people are moving even faster from those states where single issue residents are destroying what actually made them successful in the first place. I worked with Rick when he was governor and I can say that anyone who ever spent enough time with him know that he was only out for what was good for Florida. Florida is a great state to live in and will continue to be that way for years instead of the decline in many other states. Unlike others in this reply stream I am not attacking anyone just joining the majority of people who support Rick and will continue to do so. Park Brady

  • Donald Drechsler

    January 3, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    Mary above should turn off liberal TV and do some real research on who Rick Scott is and what he accomplished in the private sector and now in government. I moved to Sarasota in 1979 and because of the poor economy I got involved in politics early. Then in 1980 Ronald Reagan was elected president proving a conservative government works. As president you are not a dictator so you work with Congress to get your priorities. I believe Reagan is the blue print that both Scott and Trump are working from. On top of paying off 9 billion of Florida debt and refinancing the balance debt at much lower interest rates, Rick didn’t borrow money in his first 6 years. You would think liberal states would look at the Florida blueprint for success. Trump is doing a great job and if the stars align Rick Scott will follow Donald Trump as our next president.

  • Beware

    January 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    Mary is absolutely right on every point
    He sold out the Columbia Healthcare Hospital and left others to clean up after him
    Very self serving and untrustworthy

  • Mary Anne Hancock Shaw

    January 3, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    You are a jackass and that is from a very very rich Republican. No more money for you from my company.

    • Bunnell Boy

      January 3, 2020 at 7:51 pm

      You are what’s wrong with the Republican party, you and your money… Don’t need your vote either.

  • WILLIAM R MILLER

    January 4, 2020 at 1:22 am

    While all of the Dems and Rinos are singing his praises here is what he’did;t do for Florida and should have in stead of trying to buy votes to be a senator. “NH Governor Stands Up for Gun Rights
    Aug 11, 2019
    By: Greg Chabot

    This week in the Granite State, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed three bills that would have infringed on the rights of law- abiding gun owners.

    HB 109 would have required background checks with the aim of closing the imaginary “gun show loophole.” HB 514 would have required three -day waiting period before the transfer of a firearm. And HB 564 would have prohibited the carry of a firearm on school property.

    Of course, none of these measures would have any effect on violent gun crime, since criminals, by definition, do not follow laws. They are simply feel-good efforts made by politicians looking for votes and anti-gun media attention.

    “New Hampshire is one of the safest states in the nation, we have a long and proud tradition of responsible firearm ownership and individual freedom,” Gov. Sununu wrote in his veto message.

    As a New Hampshire resident, I cherish these freedoms and applaud the governor for standing up for them. It is nice to see a leader with a spine, not afraid to defy the opposition who want to turn New Hampshire into Massachusetts North by infringing on our 2A rights.

    Sununu also cited Part I ,Article2-a of the New Hampshire Constitution which states, “All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families and their property and state.”

    “This language provides what many believe to be more expansive legal protections for gun ownership than the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Sununu wrote.

    I couldn’t agree more with the governor’s statement. The vast majority of gun owner’s in my state are humble, law-abiding folks. These three bills would have done nothing but turn honest people into criminals. Thankfully, there is little worry the vetoes will be overturned, since the Dems do not have a two thirds majority. Firearm ownership is an important part of life here in New Hampshire, and I am grateful we have a Governor who understands what “Shall not be infringed” means.

    Live Free or Die!

    Greg Chabot is an Iraq Combat Veteran freelancer, writing from New Hampshire.

    • Bob Smith

      January 5, 2020 at 6:17 pm

      The majority of gun owners in Florida shouldn’t have a sharp stick, let alone a firearm.
      Your governor was trying to do the right thing and close some loopholes.
      I say this as a well trained concealed licensed holder and proud gun owner.

  • Eng. Mohammed Sobhan

    January 4, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Hi Rick
    We are pround to be the resident of Florida. You got enough opportunity to know Florida and it’s great people very well as a governor. We have moved you to the top level as the senator. We would like to see Florida the best in all respects. I would like to suggest you the following.
    There should be more export oriented industry in Florida. That will surely bring more foreign exchange for our national development. Crimes of any type should be taken care very professionally.Our objective should be prevention not apprehention. If we are able to prevent crime and corruption so there will very less requirement of apprehention.
    Our Theme parks and various facilities bring more visitors to Florida in turn more income. We should better take care of our guests very professionally so that we are able to convince & invite them again and again. Our school, College and university should be well equiped with a lot of professional services to get more students which in turn will allow us more educational institutions. Our all communication facility should ber equiped to number one in all respects.

    Our future generation will remember you for all these landmark activities.

    Wish you good luck.

    Eng. Mohammed Sobhan
    Former Chairman
    The American Society of Mechaniocal Engineers
    (C&W P Chapter of Saudi Arabia.
    Recipient of Albert Nelson Marquis lifetime achievement Award 2019.
    Orlando, Florida. EmaiL: [email protected]

    • Mike Taglietta

      January 4, 2020 at 8:39 am

      No one is mentioning the fact that scumbag Senator Scott has committed a crime of treason by going against his Oath of Office when he was sworn-in as Senator to uphold the Constitution of the United States when he signed that unconstitutional law in the books called the “Red Flag Law” originally proposed by Marco Rubio, another scumbag!
      Keep that in mind folks the next time you go to the polls and get rid of these treasonous bastards.

      Mike

    • Art Hager

      January 4, 2020 at 10:28 am

      You are typical southern poorly educated white trash.

      • Bob Smith

        January 5, 2020 at 6:06 pm

        Art….

        Why not just bring something to the table and dazzle him with brilliance instead of just resorting to insults?

  • Glenn Reihing

    January 4, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Let’s unpack this…

    ELECTIONS – In 2010, Scott beat Alex Sink 48.9% by 47.7, about 61, 500 votes.Scott spent $75 million of his own money for that campaign (1).

    In 2014, Scott beat Crist 48.1% by 47.1% for governor around 64,000 vote spread. This time he spent $13 million.

    In 2018, he beat out Bill Nelson 50.05% by 49.93%, a 10,000 vote spread. This time he spent $13 million.

    “Over his three campaigns, he has so far used about $145 million of his own money.” Tampa Bay Times(2)

    The bottom line was this was not individual Floridians contributing to his campaign. This was the work of very rich people, including himself, along with the Party machine getting Scott into office.

    LEGAL – Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA healthcare that was indicted for Medicare fraud under his watch. They bilked the system for approximately $336 million dollars.

    “Scott resigned in July 1997. Scott said he wanted to fight the federal government accusations, but the corporate board of Columbia/HCA wanted to settle. In 2000, the company pleaded guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies and agreed to pay $840 million in criminal fines and civil damages and penalties.

    The government settled a second series of similar claims with Columbia/HCA in 2002 for an additional $881 million. The total for the two fines was $1.7 billion.” (3)

    As governor, Rick Scott put his investments in a blind trust. What we later found out that he had his wife’s investments mirror his own so he could monitor those investments while maintaining the facade of a “blind trust”. These investments are held as a tax shelter in the Cayman Island.(4/5)

    As governor, he declined the Obama’s administration effort to give the State of Florida $2 billion dollars to develop a high speed rail system. He then turned around and he and his wife invested in the parent company for the current rail company servicing Miami-Ft. Lauderdale.(6)

    POLICY – “…Statistics show Florida is worse off for not expanding Medicaid and insuring its roughly 600,000 working poor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Florida has the third-highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country: 20.1 percent in 2017. That’s up from 19.8 percent in 2016.”(7)

    He was an investor of the parent company that oversaw the SunPass toll system for the State. “…at the recommendation of HNTB, a private contractor hired to help with the bidding process, the state lowered the minimum requirements — twice.

    “That shift is not mentioned in the inspector general’s 36-page report, but companies competing with Conduent for the contract would later suspect the changes were lowered to accommodate Conduent.”

    “The inspector general report also doesn’t mention that the Department of Transportation deviated from its procurement policies to award Conduent with the job.”

    “Conduent hired a lobbyist close to Gov. Rick Scott to advocate on the company’s behalf.”(8)

    I would urge you to read the IG’s report on SunPass since this happened on Scott’s watch.

    Lastly, the veil lifted once to show what a petty man he is when he went into a Starbucks and got into a shouting match with a female customer asking about jobs. Then shortly thereafter a superpac started a smear campaign against the woman. While you cannot PROVE Rick Scott had any involvement, it doesn’t take a season detective to connect the dots. You can see the video here: https://youtu.be/mXYzgTLoQjY.

    References:
    1. https://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/rick-scott-florida-self-funding-112403
    2. https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/11/01/nine-days-11-million-rick-scott-pumps-more-of-his-wealth-into-florida-senate-race/
    3. https://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/politifact-did-rick-scott-invoke-the-fifth-amendment-75-times/2185493/
    4. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article217391445.html
    5. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article226118305.html
    6. https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/08/16/rick-scott-and-wife-invested-in-parent-company-bidding-on-tampa-high-speed-rail/
    7. https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2018/05/22/with-scott-on-defense-reports-show-florida-woes-for-not-expanding-medicaid-433299
    8. https://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article220309175.html

  • Miriam Merino

    January 4, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    And who. It’s due this pole? In his last 3 elections he won by a tiny margin. 50% of Floridians don’t like him and didn’t want him! This article is trash.

  • Margaret Yerman

    January 4, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    As a ” single issue voter”, I am most grateful from Senator Scott’s pro life efforts both in Florida and in the US Senate. As a ‘ liberated woman” privileged to have the opportunity to attain a degree in mathematics and teach for 30 years while raising my five children, I take issue with my N.O.W. Sisters et.al. who claim the right to bodily autonomy to the point of dissection and mutilation of their unborn children, approximately the half of whom are little women. Sex is determined at conception not at birth. If these barbaric procedures to end the life of an unborn child were done on any animal, their outrage would be more than palpable.
    Every other issue pales in comparison to the life issue. If life is denied, what does it matter if the earth is greener or we have health care for all, or free education or guaranteed income even for those ” who don’t want to work” (AOC)
    I applaud the Senator and encourage him to keep up his efforts of defending the most innocent and vulnerable of human lives.

    • Bob Smith

      January 5, 2020 at 6:12 pm

      Meanwhile, the Florida educational system is rated in the lower 40s of the 50 states. With teacher pay being abominable. Subs get minimum wage. And people still say “Have you ate yet?”.
      Enjoy your pension.

  • Mac Myers

    January 4, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    Rick Scott belongs in JAIL. Not the Senate.

  • Al palmieri

    January 4, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    I’ve lived in florida for 40 yrs.What our state had going for it was low property taxes affordable houses and low insurance rates and affordable food.Since 2006 that is no longer true in our state.Unfortuneatly our wages have not kept up with the cost of living and its killing the working man.

    • Bob Smith

      January 5, 2020 at 6:24 pm

      Al….

      Well stated.
      Most people who live and work in Florida can’t afford to stay in Florida.
      As a friend and former colleague once told me many years ago:
      “People who live and retire in Florida can’t afford to stay when their job is done”.
      I guess that’s why he and others I know live in other states now.

  • Boojie

    January 5, 2020 at 1:43 am

    #1 shithead crook is more like it!
    Governor Fraud is his name.

  • Oceanjoe

    January 5, 2020 at 8:06 am

    No. 1 in damage to the environment. Sell it, pave it, cram the money in your pocket and run!
    No Mary (1st commenter) he didn’t plead the 5th 44 times, it was 74 times. When sea water laps at the doors of your mansions you will finally understand Global climate change is real, and folks like Rick ignored it for the fast buck. The last thing Florida needs is more people, more roadways through sensitive lands to accommodate cronies developments and that is what 20 years of GOP rule has brought.

  • Jonathan Martin, Sr.

    January 6, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    Congratulations Senator, You are the best and most trustworthy man I know, and I’ve known you a long time. Thanks for standing up for Florida.

Comments are closed.


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