Backroom Briefing: Two Terms and Out the Door?


Gov. Rick Scott has made imposing congressional term limits a priority of his U.S. Senate campaign. But if elected, it appears he might loosely impose such a limit on himself until the rules he wants are in place.

Asked if he would vow to limit himself to one or two terms if elected, Scott told reporters after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, “My plan is to serve two terms.”

The governor, who will turn 66 less than a month after the November election, continues to call for congressional term limits as part of a campaign strategy that includes criticizing Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s lengthy public resume.

Scott’s campaign, for example, released an ad Wednesday that plays up Nelson’s career.

“In 1978, the Ford Pinto was the best-selling small car in America, gas was 63 cents a gallon and Bill Nelson was elected to Congress,” the ad said. “Forty years later, a lot of things changed, but Bill Nelson is still in Washington, still collecting a paycheck.”

Scott simply repeated his preference for term limits when asked Wednesday if U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, should go. At 76, McConnell is nearly five months older than Nelson and reached the Senate 16 years before Florida’s senior senator.

Scott also wouldn’t agree to summarize state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam as a “career politician.”

“He’s going to be on the ballot,” Scott said. “The citizens get to make those decisions. We have term limits in our state. I think they’ve worked. I think we ought to have term limits for Congress.”

Putnam, 43, was first elected to the Florida House in 1996, moved to Congress in 2000 and was elected to his current office in 2010. Putnam, who is term-limited as agriculture commissioner, is now running for governor.


In case you missed Monday’s debate in Miramar between the Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls, most of the candidates declared victory — just like in press releases after earlier debates.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum tagged his performance as “another rousing victory.”

“He drew resounding cheers from tonight’s overflow crowd, and continued to dominate with bold, progressive policies that will motivate Democrats to turn out this August and November,” Gillum’s campaign said.

The Miramar debate came two days after Gillum, and fellow Democratic candidates Gwen Graham, Chris King and Philip Levine squared off in Pinellas County.

Gillum’s campaign touted a statement from New York Times bureau chief Patricia Mazzei, who tweeted the “Audience in this packed auditorium seems to like Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, but it’s harder to tell at this debate than at a debate two days ago — in part because moderators have clamped down on applause, etc.”

Gillum’s campaign proclaimed: “Mazzei Notes that Gillum Rules the Room.”

Not to be outdone, King, a Winter Park businessman, also went the “victory” route in a press release headline.

“Surrounded by conventional politicians, Chris King followed this weekend’s standout debate performance with another strong showing — laying out his bold, progressive proposals for free community college, ending private prisons and the death penalty and investing billions into affordable housing,” King campaign said.

Graham, a former congresswoman from Tallahassee, said in a release, which mostly recapped her comments from the stage, that she “led through the third Democratic debate.”

And finally, Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor, called it “an honor to participate in tonight’s debate.” Levine has downplayed his performances. After a first debate in April, he said in a news release that he “enjoyed the opportunity to share my vision with voters.”

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said that while her party’s gubernatorial candidates have debated three times, the Republicans have not debated and continue to “hide from voters.”

Putnam and his Republican primary opponent, Congressman Ron DeSantis, will get their own chances to declare victory after squaring off June 28 at the state GOP’s “Sunshine Summit” in Orlando.


The Dr. is back after a short ballot absence.

Dr. Joe Smith, a one-time perennial candidate, is now looking to replace Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart in Senate District 25.

Born Joseph Oscar Smith, Dr. Joe Smith is a chiropractor.

Smith legally changed his name so that Dr. would appear as his first name on the ballot. The change was made prior to an unsuccessful run in 1991 for mayor of Fort Lauderdale.

Smith has a trail of being an also-ran, including in several congressional bids in the 1980s and 1990s, a 1986 run for Florida agriculture commissioner and a number of city and county contests in Broward County.

In 2006 he teamed with Richard Dembinsky, another perennial candidate, as independents running for governor.

Smith was the lieutenant-governor candidate on the ticket, which finished fifth, with 0.2 percent of the vote, amassing 11,921 votes from the 4.8 million cast.

To ensure his first name Dr. continues to appear on the ballot, Smith included the name change in the paperwork he submitted for this year’s Senate District 25 race in Martin, St. Lucie and northern Palm Beach counties.

He joined a Republican field that features state Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, and Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of Keiser University. Robert Isaac Levy, a Democrat from Port St. Lucie, is also in the race.

Dembinsky filed last week as a write-in candidate for chief financial officer.


As state, local and federal Treasure Coast officials continue to fight their counterparts from Miami and Orlando over the Brightline passenger-train system, the rail operation announced it is looking to expand beyond Florida.

Days after receiving a seven-month extension to sell $1.15 billion in tax-exempt bonds for the planned West Palm Beach to Orlando route of the service now operating between Miami and Palm Beach County, Brightline announced a new executive team.

And as part of the release, Brightline said the company “is also analyzing the viability of replicating the model in city pairs that are ‘too long to drive and too short to fly’ in other regions throughout the country.”


State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wasn’t shy about Scott missing a “softball question” as part of Q&A in the May edition of Delta Air Lines’ Sky Magazine.

Scott was asked his favorite Florida destination — the Naples homeowner picked the Naples Pier — and foods — fresh-caught seafood, Cuban croquetas and Florida Key Lime Pie — in a sidebar to a story on state’s business climate.

“This would have a perfect opportunity to throw your CFO a bone,” Patronis told Scott during a pause in a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. “All of those (foods) are available at Capt. Anderson’s.”

Patronis family owns Capt. Anderson’s, a longtime Panama City restaurant.

Patronis said later he didn’t consider his comment as promoting the restaurant during a Cabinet meeting.

“No,” Patronis replied. “I love looking at fulfillment pieces, especially when the state can promote itself with the travelers.”

TWEET OF THE WEEK: “One more thing about KJU. While I know @POTUS is trying to butter him up to get a good deal, #KJU is NOT a talented guy. He inherited the family business from his dad & grandfather. He is a total weirdo who would not be elected assistant dog catcher in any democracy.” — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (@marcorubio), responding to comments by President Donald Trump on the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.