Rick Scott stunned Florida AG Bill McCollum to win the Republican nomination for governor in the race to replace Charlie Crist, who chose poorly in deciding to run for the Senate rather than a second term. Scott’s opponent, Alex Sink, and the Democrats have already lashed out at Scott for his past business dealings as well as his links to the Tea Party movement, which they hope to paint as extremist and out of touch with Florida voters. Scott may stun them again with his choice of running mate, state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, whose life story reads like a Hollywood script:
GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott on Thursday morning announced that state Rep. Jennifer Carroll of Jacksonville will be his running mate as lieutenant governor.
“I am honored that Jennifer is the first African-American Republican woman to be part of a statewide ticket in Florida,” Scott said.
“Jennifer Carroll is the embodiment of the American dream. She came to America as a young girl, decided to serve her country with the United States Navy, pursued a higher education, started a small business, and then was elected the first African-American female Republican in the Florida Legislature,” said Scott, who launched a new website featuring his new running mate (www.ScottCarrollforFlorida.com).
“Her conservative principles are in line with mine, and this fall we will present a clear choice between conservatives with business experience and a plan to create 700,000 jobs and liberal Obamacrats who want to bring the failed Obama agenda to Florida,” Scott said in a statement to his supporters.
Townhall’s political editor Guy Benson thinks this could be a game changer, and points to her biography and her ability to reach across some contentious divides. Carroll belongs to both the NAACP and the NRA, for instance. She spent 20 years as a naval officer, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Carroll also softens Scott’s hardline image, which was necessitated by his fight against McCollum.
Given Scott’s connections to and support from the Tea Party, Carroll also shows that mainstream small-government conservatives come from all backgrounds and communities. That can only help both Scott and the conservative grassroots activists in Florida and elsewhere, although that shouldn’t really be news. Marco Rubio vaulted into the frontrunner position in Florida’s Senate race after embracing the Tea Party. Diversity has become the hallmark of Tea Party favorites like Rubio, Sharron Angle, Nikki Haley, Col. Allen West, Renee Ellmers, and so on.
In the immediate aftermath of the tight primary, Rasmussen had this race at a dead heat:
Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink are about as close as they can be in the first Rasmussen Reports survey since Independent Bud Chiles announced his intention to withdraw from Florida’s gubernatorial race.
The latest statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Scott picking up 45% of the vote while Sink draws support from 44%. Nine percent (9%) prefer some other candidate and two percent (2%) are undecided.
Look for a bump updward in Scott’s numbers in the next survey.