Rick Scott, the Republican running for governor, has selected Fort Lauderdale attorney Levi Williams as his Broward County chairman.
Williams is one of the few visible black Republican activists in Broward -- a county where only about 8,000 of the more than 1 million voters are black Republicans.
Williams will play a key role in helping the Broward GOP establishment -- which mostly backed Bill McCollum in the primary -- make nice with Scott.
Williams said that he backed McCollum -- who he had known for many years -- in the primary but that during the primary met with Scott at Scott's request. On Wednesday, Scott met with several dozen Broward GOP activists at Wings Plus in Coral Springs -- a popular Republican hangout. Williams said the crowd included club presidents and Cindy Guerra, the Broward GOP chair who works for McCollum's Attorney General office and backed her boss.
"There were some Republicans who walked in voicing concerns ... by the time Scott was done he got resounding applause," said Williams.
Williams, who is originally from Jamaica, said he doesn't think Scott chose him because of his race. Scott chose a black state legislator, Jennifer Carroll, as his running mate.
"With all the differences I may have with [President Barack] Obama on policy, the one thing he did and did well was run a campaign and a presidential administration that is not race focused,'' Williams said. "While there may be issues specific to the black race that we need to resolve, the issue is really can you get the job done given the opportunity?"
Williams is a former Broward College trustee and was interviewed by Gov. Charlie Crist to replace Joe Eggelletion who stepped down amid corruption charges that landed him in prison. Crist chose Al jones, a former Dania Beach mayor, instead and Jones lost the primary in August.