When Rick Scott posed for a picture with some Broward County supporters in Fort Lauderdale Monday afternoon, he interrupted the photographer because somebody important was missing.
"Billy! Come here!" Scott shouted to Bill Rubin, a lobbyist who's deeply entrenched in the culture of Tallahassee. A beaming Rubin positioned himself in between Scott, the outsider candidate for governor, and his mother, Esther.
Speculation is already running wild about who will emerge as the new go-to lobbyist if Scott wins, and Rubin's name pops up with regularity because so few lobbyists have been with Scott since the beginning. In the perception-is-reality world of Florida's capital, nobody is sweating out Tuesday night's election results more than Rubin.
"I got to know Rick in 1991 when he started his hospital company and we've stayed close ever since. I love him," Rubin says. "He's a very good friend. We've stayed in touch ever since."
Rubin shook his head no when asked if he would benefit from Scott in the Governor's office. "I won't be. I'll quickly dispel that perception."
Scott calls Rubin a personal friend. "Billy's been a good friend for a long time -- gosh, since 1990? He's been a very good friend ... I'm going to make decisions on behalf of the citizens of Florida."
A Democrat who worked for Cabinet members Robert Shevin and Bill Gunter in the '70s and '80s, Rubin runs The Rubin Group and lobbies for health care companies, parimutuels and cities. He was one of the first non-lawyer lobbyists to lobby for a major law firm (read this trend-setting piece by John C. Van Gieson). Just three weeks ago, Rubin added his newest client; the Geo Group, a Boca Raton-based operator of private prisons.
-- Steve Bousquet