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Rick Scott’s makes almost-endorsement of Mary Thomas

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Gov. Rick Scott came about as a pol can get to endorsing another without pulling the trigger.

At a private fundraiser hosted by the conservative Club for Growth, writes POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon, Scott singled out Thomas for special praise.

“Mary came aboard with me right after I got elected back in 2010 and worked in my general counsel office, and to give her bragging rights, everything she touched, it worked,” Scott said, according to audio from the meeting provided to POLITICO Florida.

“So thank you for helping her, and hopefully she has a big win,” Scott told the group of conservative activists and donors gathered in West Palm Beach for the February event.

Scott’s camp says the comments at the closed door event do not represent a formal endorsement.

“The governor thinks highly of Mary but the governor also thinks voters should decide who will best represent them in Washington. This is not an endorsement,” said Brecht Heuchan, an adviser to Let’s Get to Work, the committee that runs Scott’s political operation.

Thomas served as an attorney in Scott’s administration, including as general counsel for the Department of Elder Affairs. She is running in the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District against Panama City physician Neal Dunn.

Scott has a history of fence-straddling when it comes to formal endorsements.

The governor penned an op-ed in USA Today praising Donald Trump and drawing comparison to the billionaire real estate mogul’s presidential campaign and his own run for governor in 2010, but begged off when asked if it amounted to an endorsement.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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