Rick Scott is turning to a long-time political ally and former north Florida legislator to take over one of the top elected jobs in state government.
At a Monday morning news conference in Panama City, Scott announced he has named former Republican state legislator Jimmy Patronis of Panama City as the state's next chief financial officer.
Scott made the announcement at Captain Anderson's restaurant in Panama City, which the Patronis family has owned and operated for half a century. "In the state senate, I worked diligently for 10 years to plant the seeds of an innovation economy right here in Florida, and as your next CFO, I want to bring that project to term through continued investment in innovation on every level - from our universities to the labor market".
In appointing Patronis to replace Atwater, Scott made him the likely frontrunner to win a full term as CFO in 2018.
"This year marks the 50th anniversary of my family starting a business in Florida, and it has been my honor to be a part of its growth and success for much of my life", said Patronis.
"The role is to be a full-time officer of the state of Florida", Patronis said. And earlier this year, the governor appointed Patronis to the Constitution Revisions Commission.
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"I am honored to be appointed as Florida's next CFO". He broke from the party's leadership in 2010 to support Scott in his initial gubernatorial campaign over then-Attorney General Bill McCollum. "I want every family in Florida to have the same opportunities that my family had". Last year, Scott and Atwater also clashed in their joint appointment of a new insurance commissioner.
In a rare opportunity, Scott has the chance to appoint someone to the four-member Cabinet who will nearly assuredly vote in lockstep with him moving forward. Patronis hasn't indicated if he'll run to keep the job next year.
Patronis will be sworn in Friday during a ceremony in Tallahassee.
Florida's chief financial officer is elected statewide and is a member of the state Cabinet that oversees several key agencies.
No Republicans had formally announced their intentions to run for the seat, but former state Sen.