Mum’s still the word on state Sen. Jack Latvala’s possible gubernatorial run, but he took the time Thursday to speak in front of a wealth of business owners during a luncheon for the Argus Foundation, a non-profit to help the private and public sectors meet, at the Sarasota Yacht Club.
“You might hear ‘stump speech’ after August the 16th, but not today,” he said, noting his expected announcement date.
In his 20-minute presentation, if you will, the Republican chair of the Florida Senate’s Appropriations Committee discussed how much the Florida Legislature has changed since when he was first elected in the 1990s.
Term limits are why the Florida Legislature went “haywire” this year, although he said he initially voted for them.
“It’s not as important anymore to do a good job in the job you’re in because you’re always thinking the next job that you want, the next job that you think you’re going to get,” Latvala, R-Clearwater, said.
And because of that, Latvala feels it gives an inordinate amount of power to the House Speaker and Senate President.
He was especially critical of House Speaker Richard Corcoran when he said Enterprise Florida was “corporate welfare,” which Latvala said “worked for 20 years” but was subject to a “full-on, onslaught assault” by Corcoran.
But that won’t be his platform if he runs for governor, he said. The important points boil down to four things: public schools, infrastructure, the environment and mental health.
“A state that has water on three sides has got to be mindful of (climate change and sea level rise),” he said.
Latvala didn’t realize that Sarasota was one of many counties struggling with the opioid epidemic, saying there needs to be more resources for mental health.
“We’ve got to treat these people the same way we treat them with physical illness and try to keep their health in our minds, in our focus,” he said.
So far 17 people have officially thrown in their names to vie for Gov. Rick Scott’s seat in 2018, according to the Florida Division of Elections. Notable names include Republican Adam Putnam, the current agriculture commissioner, and Democrat Gwen Graham, a former congresswoman and daughter of former Gov. Bob Graham. Scott is expected to run for a U.S. Senate seat.