“Oh What a Night”
Election 2010 will go down in the history books! For the first time in 100 years, Florida elected new people in each of its four cabinet positions, and the Republican leadership grew its majority in the Florida House and Senate by enough seats to secure a veto-proof Legislature. Half of the Florida cabinet has never held elected office before, as Governor-elect Scott and Attorney General-elect Bondi are both political newcomers.
On the federal level, Republicans regained the majority in the House of Representatives, a majority they lost in 2006. In Florida, Republicans control 19 of the 25 Congressional seats, having picked up four seats. The Democrats were able to retain their majority in the U.S. Senate, albeit with a much narrower margin. Senator-elect Marco Rubio won big and will be a rising star in the Congress and on every Republican Presidential hopeful’s shortlist for Vice President.
At The Fiorentino Group, we have been fortunate to be very closely involved with all those elected in Florida at both the state and federal levels. At our firm, politics is not a spectator sport. We believe that active involvement is the only way to guarantee success. As our firm continues to grow, we are well-positioned to navigate these un-charted waters.
Over the past few weeks, many of our clients and friends have inquired about our firm’s relationships with the newly elected Florida leadership. This newsletter shares how our firm is positioned for the future.
All the best,
FLORIDA’S NEW GOVERNOR
“There’s a New Sheriff in Town”
Much like the rest of the country, Florida chose to elect a candidate from the business community. Rick Scott is an extremely smart, shrewd and successful businessman who, prior to November 2nd, had never held elected office. In a political sense, Scott will arrive at the Governor’s office with a clean slate and with little owed to any political constituency.
Erika Alba in our office knew Rick Scott before he ran for governor. They served on the Associated Industries of Florida board of directors together. Erika believed in Rick and his vision for Florida from day one. On Election Day, I had the pleasure of flying around the state with Rick and Ann Scott and now CFO-elect Jeff Atwater as they made their last election stops before heading home. We talked a lot about Florida’s future. Rick and Ann are some of the nicest and most humble people I have met. They are a delightful couple and team. I believe Governor-elect Scott is the right man at the right time to lead Florida at this critical time in our nation’s history. He is focused on economic development and making Florida the most business-friendly state in the nation. His focus on less government, less taxes and more jobs will serve us well in these trying economic times.
Governor-elect Scott has chosen a terrific Lieutenant Governor in Jennifer Carroll. She epitomizes the American Dream as the first African-American Lieutenant Governor of Florida. Born in Trinidad, Lieutenant Governor-elect Carroll moved to the United States and eventually rose through the ranks of the military to become a Naval officer. After retiring from the Navy, she became a successful small business owner who was tapped by Governor Jeb Bush to be Secretary of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. She then ran successfully for the Florida House of Representatives, where she became Majority Whip. Being from Northeast Florida, we know Jennifer well. We are fortunate that our own Joe Mobley served as her chief aide in the Legislature before joining our firm.
The Scott campaign was well-run, focused and on message. Congratulations to Scott Campaign Manager Susie Wiles for the excellent job she did in a campaign that only began in April when Rick entered the race. I have known Susie and her husband Lanny for almost 30 years. They are a political team. She served as chief of staff to Mayor John Delaney and chief of communications and special initiatives for Mayor John Peyton. Susie did an outstanding job running the campaign in a disciplined and professional manner.
FLORIDA CABINET – ALL REPUBLICAN
“A Lineup the Yankees Would Love to Have…”
In January 2011, three new cabinet members will be sworn into office. With Pam Bondi as Attorney General, Jeff Atwater as Chief Financial Officer and Adam Putnam as Commissioner of Agriculture, our state stands to have the strongest cabinet ever.
Although this is her first elected position, Pam Bondi has nearly 20 years of experience as a criminal prosecutor in the Hillsborough State Attorney’s office. Erika Alba of our firm served as Pam’s Northeast Florida co-chair. As former prosecutors, Pam and Erika hit it off early in the campaign and have become close friends, and our entire firm has gotten to know her well. As Florida’s first female Attorney General, she will bring a new perspective to the job as well as a strong law enforcement background.
Jeff Atwater comes to the Chief Financial Officer position with extensive experience in banking and financial issues, as well as leadership positions within the Florida State Legislature. Most recently he served as President of the Florida Senate. Jeff, Randall Reid in our Tampa office, and I have known each other for more than 30 years, having been fraternity brothers at the University of Florida and friends ever since. Less known to many people is that Jeff started his career in Jacksonville when he took a position with Barnett Bank as a management trainee.
Finally, Adam Putnam will join the cabinet after serving five terms in the U.S. Congress. Adam was a star in Congress, where he served on the House Agriculture, Budget, Rules and Financial Services Committees, and held powerful leadership positions as a former Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and House Republican Conference. Having known Adam for 15 years, I know he will be a star in Tallahassee. Bo Bohannon in our Tallahassee office served as senior staff and policy advisor to several House Speakers and worked closely with Adam on economic development and agriculture issues when he was in the Florida Legislature.
Governor Scott will have an exceptionally qualified Cabinet to assist him in leading Florida through these challenging times.
“The election might be over but the Transition has already begun…”
As expected, Governor-elect Scott has named a strong transition team. The team represents some of the brightest and most experienced minds in Florida. They are familiar names and we know them very well. The Transition team leadership includes former chief of staff to Governor Jeb Bush Kathleen Shanahan, whose company WRS Compass is a former client; State Representative Mike Weinstein; U.S. Senator George LeMieux; State Senator Paula Dockery; Sally Bradshaw; former Lieutenant Governor to Governor Bush Toni Jennings; and former Representative Bill Galvano. Mark Pinto, who recently joined our firm, was until last week Rep. Galvano’s aide in the Legislature. We expect to see Bill in Tallahassee again – perhaps in the Florida Senate.
FLORIDA REPUBLICANS PICK UP
FOUR CONGRESSIONAL SEATS
Florida Republicans contributed significantly to the party’s new majority in the House of Representatives by picking up four Congressional seats. The National Republican Congressional Committee targeted all four of those districts, all currently held by Democrats, and successfully won each race. All four Democrats had voted for the federal health care bill. None of the races were even close, with Republicans winning by nine or more percentage points.
In South Florida, former State Representative and Appropriations Chairman David Rivera won a hard-fought race in one of the few seats Democrats thought they would win nationally. David is a true conservative and one of Marco Rubio’s closest friends and confidants. He is the consummate political pro and will represent his district well. Along the Space Coast and Central Florida, former State Representative Sandy Adams and former Speaker of the House Daniel Webster both soundly defeated their incumbent opponents. Bo Bohannon served as council director and senior policy advisor on economic development and insurance issues for Speaker Webster when he led the Florida House.
Perhaps most significant is the return of John Mica, who I have known for more than 20 years, to the House of Representatives. He will become Chairman of the largest committee in Congress, the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This committee will shepherd the $500 billion Surface Transportation bill through Congress next year and has jurisdiction over aviation, seaports, railroads and highways.
NORTHEAST FLORIDA WELL-POSITIONED
“Where Stars Are Born and Leaders Are Made”
With the election of Lieutenant Governor-elect Carroll and CFO-elect Atwater, Representative Weinstein in a key transition role and Susie Wiles’ role in the campaign, Northeast Florida is well-positioned in state politics. In addition, our hometown State Senator, John Thrasher, is a strong and trusted leader in the Florida Senate who will continue to fight for our interests in Tallahassee. Finally, with Congressman Mica poised to chair the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Congress, it is safe to say that Northeast Florida has an abundance of political clout. The Fiorentino Group is proud to call each of these leaders our neighbor and friend, and we look forward to working with them in 2011 and beyond.
THE FIORENTINO GROUP NEWS
Erika Alba Elected Chair of Associated Industries of Florida,
Expands Multi-State Practice
Erika Alba was elected the first female Chair of Associated Industries of Florida, one of the premier business organizations in the state. This is quite an honor and our entire firm is proud of her accomplishment.
Erika and Kate Wallace continue to expand TFG’s multi-state practice, where we monitor and track legislation in all 50 states for clients doing business in multiple states. Our multi-state clients have found this to be a cost-effective alternative to hiring lobbyists in each state in which they operate.
The Fiorentino Group’s Tampa Bay Office Grows
Randall Reid is working to expand our firm’s reach across Florida by enlisting new clients in the Tampa Bay area and providing business development services for existing clients looking to expand their business potential in the Tampa Bay market.
We are pleased to announce that Mark Pinto, former aide to Representative Bill Galvano, has joined our firm in the Tampa Bay office. Mark’s contacts and legislative experience are a welcome addition to our practice. With the Republican National Convention headed to Tampa in 2012, we are well-positioned to assist our clients in maximizing their activities in the Tampa Bay region and at the convention.