Gov. Rick Scott paid a rare, personal visit to the offices of four Republican senators Wednesday in a last-minute attempt to rescue an anti-union bill that appeared destined for defeat.
The governor asked the same question to Miami Sen’s. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Rene Garcia, Anitere Flores and Inverness Sen. Charlie Dean. And he got the same answer: No.
Scott’s intervention was the “Hail Mary” pass of Sen. John Thrasher, the Jacksonville lawyer and former Republican Party of Florida chairman whose top priority was passage of the bill to ban public employee unions from using automatic payroll deduction to collect dues. But by the end of the day, Thrasher had all but conceded defeat.
“If it isn’t right and we can’t get the votes to get where we need to get to, we’ll come back and fight another day,’’ he said.
Scott’s failure to change the minds of fellow Republicans underscored the lack of popularity of the bill and of the freshman governor — who adopted the talking points of the nationally-watched issue but lacked the political juice to get it.
The governor is getting used to the rejection. In recent weeks, Scott has threatened to veto the budget if it didn’t include some of his $2.4 billion in cuts to corporate income taxes and fees, urged legislators to pass an Arizona-style immigration bill and has lobbied lawmakers to end the state’s traditional defined contribution pension plan and replace it with a 401(k)-style retirement plan. Each has been scuttled by lawmakers, raising doubts about the success of the governor’s session agenda.
As Scott left Diaz de la Portilla’s office Wednesday afternoon, the senator told him: "I’m sorry this had to be our first face-to-face meeting — but I think you’re doing a great job.’’