After years of setting up to run for statewide office, Manatee County land developer and key Republican fundraiser Pat Neal said Wednesday that he has decided against running for chief financial officer of Florida, partly due to the “dispiriting” rise of Donald Trump.
For parts of the last two years, Neal had been not so quietly laying groundwork to run for CFO in 2018 when current office holder Jeff Atwater is term limited out of office. In 2014 when Atwater considered leaving the post early to become a college president but did not, Neal acknowledged his interest in the statewide position to reporters.
Neal, a former state senator, said his main reason for not running is that the housing market is booming and he needs to focus his time and energy on his business.
But, Neal made it a point in an interview with the Herald/Times to note his frustration at watching Trump’s emergence.
“Trump’s candidacy and its success has been dispiriting to me,” Neal said.
He said Trump’s rise reflects a Republican Party that he does not understand.
Neal, former director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, was a part of Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team in 2010 and serves on the board of directors of Florida TaxWatch. He is also the former chairman of the Florida Commission on Ethics.