Keep your eyes on Florida’s governor, and two who want his job.
The Florida Legislature goes back into session on Jan. 9.
RICK SCOTT: The two-term Republican governor is in his last year in office and would like his final session to be triumphant, especially if, as expected, he runs for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Bill Nelson. Scott and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature have had a rocky history, with the CEO-style governor not inclined to cut deals while also aggressively using the line-item veto to erase billions of dollars in hometown spending. Scott sets the tone for the two-month session with his opening-day State of the State address on Jan. 9.
BILL GALVANO: A politically moderate Republican from Bradenton, Galvano is a battle-tested lawyer who has quietly accumulated power as he plans to become Senate president in November. He’ll play a central role on issues involving higher education policy, budget and rescuing the storm-battered agriculture industry and has a better rapport with the confrontational House speaker, Richard Corcoran, than most other Senate GOP leaders do.
ROB BRADLEY: A lawyer and native of Green Cove Springs, Bradley, 47, is a legislative workforce who takes on big issues and now has a big title to match. He has worked most closely on Everglades restoration and medical marijuana legislation the past two sessions and favors spending more for the environment. He now has more responsibility as Sen. Jack Latvala’s replacement as the new chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.
RICHARD CORCORAN: The House speaker has led with a style some critics call dictatorial, but there has never been any doubt about who’s in control. He knows how to use power and to exploit weaknesses and distractions in the Senate, and forged a mutually beneficial alliance with Scott in 2017 after months of intense combat. A lawyer from Land O’Lakes, Corcoran enters his last session while weighing a bid for governor as soon as March, which will subject his every move to speculation that it’s motivated by political ambition.
ADAM PUTNAM: Entering his last year as the state’s agriculture commissioner, he’ll be in the spotlight for several reasons. Citrus, the state’s No. 2 industry, is in need of more help than ever; he’s the leading Republican candidate for governor; and he will face mounting pressure to take stands on non-farm issues such as tax cuts, spending and storm recovery as the 43-year-old Bartow native seeks the state’s most powerful political office.
Steve Bousquet, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau