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Running Mates

Post # 12 , Bob McKnight's Subscription Commentary

"There is Buddy MacKay and then there is Jennifer Carroll."

As readers of my book, The Golden Years...The Florida Legislature, '70's and '80's are aware, I was honored to be on the short list selection for Lieutenant Governor for three different candidates for Governor. It was an honor for me, but for the candidate it was perhaps the most important decision of their political life. Although critics say the job entails only ceremonial responsibilities, but that is not always the case. It can be a very strategic appointment.

Governor Lawton Chiles selected one of the outstanding legislators of all time to be his running mate--Governor Buddy MacKay. Chiles gave him the toughest job in all of state government--running the un-manageable Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. No surprise, MacKay turned the sprawling agency into one of the most responsive and effective in all of Florida government.

A good example of how not to select and involve a running mate is our current governor, Rick Scott. He appointed former Representative Jennifer Carroll, an ineffective member of the House who Scott barely knew. She went on to have ethics charges filed against her and was largely ignored by Scott. His current running mate, Lt. Gov.Carlos Lopez-Cantera is seldom seen or heard from--a wasted appointment.

A strategic running mate can add political, gender, additional experience, race and geographic balance to a ticket. If the selection is well researched and implemented, it can be a bonus for the public--almost like getting 2 governors instead of one. But, as with all major decisions, it takes work, time and consultation with great political minds. Those traits are not in excess from a quick look at some of this year's candidates for governor, unfortuantely.

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