It’s the most interesting parlor game in Tallahassee.
Who will Rick Scott appoint to be the state’s next Chief Financial Officer now that Jeff Atwater has announced that he is leaving his job at the end of the month?
In a letter to the governor sent Monday, Atwater says his last day in office will be June 30.
So will the next CFO be state Rep. Joe Gruters? Or Pat Neal? How about former Rep. Jimmy Patronis? Perhaps a dark horse candidate will emerge.
Only time will tell. However, one name that can be scratched from the list is state Sen. Jack Latvala.
Latvala told FloridaPolitics.com on Monday that he does not want the governor to appoint him. Nor will he run for CFO in 2018, no matter who Scott picks.
“It’s not where my interests lie,” said Latvala.
If you read between the lines, it sounds like it’s the Governor’s Mansion or bust if Latvala is to be on the ballot next year.
The current Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee for months has said he is actively exploring a bid for governor, but is waiting until later this summer before finalizing his decision.
In the meantime, Latvala does have a definite opinion about who Scott should choose.
“I’ve told the governor he should select Joe Gruters,” Latvala said.
“It just makes sense that the person in charge of the state’s books is a CPA,” said Latvala.
The Chief Financial Officer plays a key role in helping regulate the financial and insurance industries and also functions as the state’s treasurer.
Gruters is a first-term state Representative from Sarasota, where he is also chairman of the county Republican Party. He’s vice-chair of the Florida GOP and was a trustee at Florida State University.
Gruters is also a savvy political player, having backed Scott early in 2010 when few other establishment Republicans would and endorsing Donald Trump for president when most of the Florida GOP was with either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio.
Both Gruters and Latvala were allies of Scott during the regular and special legislative session this year, supporting his push for funding for the state’s jobs and tourism recruitment agencies.
“Jack Latvala is one of the most influential and important political players here in Florida,” Gruters said after learning of Latvala’s endorsement. “I am incredibly grateful that he would try to use his influence with the Governor to support me.”
Material from the Associated Press is used in this post.