Gov. Rick Scott's plan to spend tax dollars to boost the national prominence of Florida's top cancer centers came as a pleasant surprise to the Mayo Clinic.
One of the country's most prestigious names in research, the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center is in three states — the mother ship in Minnesota, plus Florida and Arizona. Mayo Jacksonville officials figured they — and the 14,000 cancer patients seen at the Florida site — would benefit from Scott's plan.
After all, the glass doors of its research building bear the federal seal of approval Scott wants more Florida centers to have: "A comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute."
But Mayo, nestled in a forest of pine trees in suburban Jacksonville, has learned that being "Florida's best kept secret," as its leaders like to say, has political consequences. As this year's legislative session wore on, it became clear that Mayo would be snubbed in favor of centers that enjoy more support in Tallahassee.
"It was eye-opening to us," said Layne Smith, Mayo's director of state government relations.
Consumers who wait eagerly for the latest news on the war against cancer might imagine that medical research is a purely scientific pursuit. But especially now, as federal research dollars grow scarcer and competition for whatever other funds can be found intensifies, it's a political challenge as well.
Just ask Mayo Jacksonville.