Republican Gov. Rick Scott didn't face much heat from six legislators from Broward's delegation who showed up for his informal chat today at The Floridian diner in Fort Lauderdale. Broward can be unfriendly territory for the Republican governor -- the majority of the state legislators are Democrats and Democratic voters outnumber GOP voters two to one here.
The contingent that met with Scott today included two Republican representatives -- George Moraitis and Bill Hager -- and four Democrats: Sen. Eleanor Sobel and representatives Joe Gibbons, Ari Porth and Evan Jenne. Porth isn't exactly in a position to challenge the governor -- he interviews with Scott next week in hopes of an appointment to the Broward bench.
Sobel called on Scott to listen to different viewpoints and Gibbons argued that the state didn't do enough to grow jobs. While legislators raised some general concerns about adequately funding schools among other topics, they didn't press Scott for details about the state of the state or his future agenda. For example when Porth asked Scott for an update about a committee formed in the wake of the Miami Herald's Neglected to Death series about the state's lax oversight of assisted living facilities, he told Porth the committee had met and encouraged Porth to contact his office if he had ideas. Legislators didn't press Scott on whether he has a plan for ALF reform.
The biggest fireworks were between Gibbons and Hager about efforts toward job growth. Gibbons argued that during the session legislators spent too much time on bills that had nothing to do with jobs while Hager countered that the state lowered taxes and that "lowering taxes creates jobs."
Scott repeated familiar refrains -- offering parents school choice, reducing taxes and regulations to attract more businesses and job growth. The governor's informal gathering at the diner is part of his attempt to remake his public image -- he wore a shirt unbuttoned at the collar, shook hands in the main dining area and posed for a photo with a visitor on the sidewalk.