Gov. Rick Scott's top adviser says the search for Florida's next lieutenant governor is moving ahead slowly and privately with the focus on finding someone who can be "a steward of the governor's vision and character."
In his most detailed comments on the subject to date, Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth said the only two people engaged in discussions about the subject are himself and the governor. Speculation beyond that is just that, he said, calling it "an interesting parlor game" in Tallahassee. The job of lieutenant governor, reinstituted in 1968 after a long absence, has no specific duties prescribed by law.
"Ultimately, it's a stewardship decision," said Hollingsworth, who's directing the search process at Scott's request. "The single most important criteria for a lieutenant governor is someone who, God forbid, would be capable of performing the functions of governor if that were required."
Hollingsworth said there's no timetable for a decision. "There's no reason to set a deadline," he said. "We're going to take the right time to pick the right person."
He says the search will focus on finding someone who has "the same policy mind-set as the governor, has the same vision for moving Florida forward, and would do it with an integrity that is consistent with the governor's character." He insists there's no "short list" of potential picks and declined to get into a discussion of specific names.
Scott is not required to pick a lieutenant governor until next September. But he will need to move faster than that if he envisions a political partner who can help him on the campaign trail. For now, the delay serves Scott's interests, as he waits to see how the Democratic field of gubernatorial candidates shapes up. Plus, and if his poll numbers (and likelihood of winning re-election) improve, the appeal of the job will escalate, creating a wider pool of candidates.
Asked how he can tell someone is qualified to serve as governor if necessary, Hollingsworth said: "I think the governor will make that decision, not me ... once he identifies someone he wants to spend time talking with."
Hollingsworth says he's prepared for what he called the "color commentary" of politicians, pundits and lobbyists offering opinions of potential successors to Jennifer Carroll, who resigned March 12. "It could become a distraction if it's not managed properly," he said.
-- Steve Bousquet