Like so many others in Florida politics, when Nancy Watkins calls, I answer the phone. Always. Well, almost always.
Watkins, the ultra-connected campaign treasurer for dozens of candidates and political groups throughout the state and across the nation, phoned me two weeks ago, but, inexplicably, I missed her call. That’s no bueno because, usually, Watkins is calling to let me know that one of my clients has authorized her to cut me a check.
But this time, Watkins said she was calling for another reason. Unfortunately, we ended up not connecting despite playing a vigorous game of phone tag. That’s understandable because if there is one person busier than this never-sleeps blogger, it’s Watkins, who keeps dozens of candidates on the straight and narrow.
Now I have an idea what Watkins may have been calling about. According to La Gaceta‘s Patrick Manteiga, the rumor du jour is that Watkins is thinking about running for the state House after Representative Dana Young, the recently appointed Majority Leader, is term-limited from running again. If that’s so, where do I sign up to volunteer? Because if there is one person I’d walk door-to-door for, it is the highly-intelligent, classy Nancy Watkins.
As the go-to Republican money expert for political finances, Watkins popularity is based in her simple credo: “Every detail matters.”
“Somebody’s political career is on the line,” she said in a Florida Trend interview. “That’s what I remember every day.”
Born in Miami Beach, Watkins’ father was a military pilot, meaning her family moved around the country, including a nine-year assignment in Washington, D.C. It was time in D.C. that exposed Watkins to national politics. A close family friend served as executive office for President Lyndon Johnson.
“It was a normal world to go to a bill signing at the Rose Garden,” Watkins recalls, “to go to the Easter egg hunt at the White House.”
Watkins holds an associate’s degree from Hillsborough Community College and accounting degree from the University of South Florida.
Approached before to run for office, Watkins briefly considered a run in 1994 for the seat of former Rep. Sam Gibbons. She decided against it.
“I don’t want to live in this fishbowl,” she said. “I do get to see the sausage-making side of politics.”
Young’s South Tampa seat opens up in 2018, so Watkins has plenty of time to consider whether she wants to live in the fishbowl. Something tells me she won’t have any trouble raising money if she does decide to run.