Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum have just a few days remaining to make their first big choice after winning primary elections last Tuesday — selection of a running mate. The state constitution requires a Lt. Governor, though there are no assigned responsibilities. Both have until Thursday, September 6 to make their picks.
Congressman DeSantis likely is ahead of the process more than Tallahassee Mayor Gillum because of his unexpected victory.
While media outlets have released a list of names the DeSantis’ campaign is considering, sources tell FLA News that any public narrowing of the list is mere speculation since the internal search starts and stops with one person — Ron DeSantis.
Who’s on the List?
For Gillum, the ongoing rumor is he’ll select a woman as his running mate. The visual is powerful — an African-American and a woman. It sends a sign that the Democratic Party is inclusive.
Those rumored to be on Gillum’s short list:
State Senator Lauren Book — the Broward County Democrat was elected to the Senate in 2016. She’s the daughter of powerful lobbyist Ron Book. Once a victim of abuse by a family employee, Book has become a strong advocate of child abuse prevention.
State Representative Kristin Jacobs — another Broward County Democrat. She was elected to the Florida House in 2014. She’s a strong proponent of addressing climate change. She ran for Congress in 2012 but was defeated by Lois Frankel, then Mayor of West Palm Beach.
Mayor Melissa McKinlay — The current Mayor of Palm Beach County. She’s an outspoken supporter of fighting combat opioid abuse. She formerly worked for Senator Bill Nelson and in the U.S. House of Representatives.
For the same reasons as Gillum, DeSantis’ is looking for diversity in his pick for Lt. Governor.
Reportedly under consideration are:
State Representative Bob Cortez — Cortez was born in New York but moved to Puerto Rico as a child. His selection could be impactful in the ever-growing Puerto Rican population in Central Florida.
Judge Laurel Lee — She was appointed a Circuit Judge in Hillsborough County in 2013. She’s the wife of current Senator ( and former Senate President) Tom Lee.
State Senator Debbie Mayfield — She was elected to the Senate in 2016 and previously served in the state House for eight years. Mayfield represents Brevard and Indian River counties in the Senate.
Whoever DeSantis and Gillum select, the first rule is — do no harm. The running mate pick may not win an election, but it can certainly lose it.
20 Years of LG Picks
During Jeb Bush’s 1994 run for governor, he selected then-State Representative Tom Feeney as his running mate. Democrat Governor Lawton Chiles’ campaign defined Feeney as an ultraconservative out of step with Florida. Bush narrowly lost to the incumbent Chiles. Four years later, Bush had problems with his running mate selection, then-Secretary of State Sandra Mortham. She left the ticket after allegations of excessive spending of private donations for promotional items. Bush then settled on Education Commissioner Frank Brogan and the third time was a charm.
Brogan was tasked with getting Bush’s aggressive agenda through the legislature. At times it was a daunting task. It was a role continued by former Senate President Toni Jennings when she replaced Brogan during the second term.
In 2006, moderate Republican Charlie Crist sought to balance the ticket with a conservative, selecting then-State Representative Jeff Kottkamp. “A strong running mate will help you win the election by balancing the ticket ideologically, help you raise significant campaign contributions and campaign tirelessly for the next two months,” said former Lt. Governor Kottkamp. “Just as important — a strong running mate can help you govern and if the unexpected happens have the ability to be an effective Governor.”
When Rick Scott ran in 2010, he selected the first African-American to serve at Lt. Governor, Jennifer Carroll, who would later resign after ethical issues surfaced. Scott clearly didn’t see the value in having a Lt. Governor and waited 10 months before selecting Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who is rarely seen in the Florida Capitol and has no assigned duties.
For a job that has no responsibilities unless the governor dies, selecting a running mate is no easy task. That’s why it’s important for DeSantis and Gillum to select wisely and do it just a week and a half after the primary. The key is to now — fulfill the Constitutional requirement and get the person on the road campaigning for the ticket.