Now that the primary is over, the candidates – Davis and Crist – each have 10 days to name their Lieutenant Governor nominees. To be sure, this selection does not change the direction of the race in a large amount; however, it can have an effect on what is expected to be a very close race.
In looking at potential LG candidates, there are five characteristics that can be analyzed:
We can expect that both Davis and Crist will choose someone with some public service experience, the proverbial gravitas to be governor should something unfortunate happen. In that case, experience is less a help to the campaigns than a hinderance – choosing a less-experienced candidate could be a slight detriment to the campaign (see Bush-Feeney in 1994).
So who would be on a short list? Pre-primary endorsements could play a factor, but they are ignored for the purposes of this analysis.
The top of the Davis list should be Rod Smith. Selecting Smith would promote Democratic unity, which will be key to a victory this fall. The problem is the rather negative tone of the end of the campaign could preclude a Davis-Smith ticket. Rod would help Davis among the more conservative voters in North Florida, where Smith won in the primary. These “Dixiecrat” voters are known as Reagan Democrats, and Crist is a Reagan Republican, so Davis will need to find a way to connect with them.
Other Democrats with enough name recognition and experience are harder to find. Outgoing House minority leader Chris Smith is an African-American from voter-rich Broward County, and would give an interesting twist to “Davis-Smith”. Incoming minority leader Dan Gelber is widely respected (even by Jeb Bush), and also from Broward County. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne were taken off the list becuase of problems back home. West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel could help solidify South Florida voters, but she lacks statewide appeal.
In the end, Davis’ decision could be to go with someone with less experience, such as a local government official. It could come from Davis’ advisory committee. However, it will be interesting to see who he selects.
Charlie Crist has a lot more to choose from, because Republicans have been more successful recently. Outgoing House Speaker Allan Bense could make for an interesting selection, and he could help with the North Florida, but we’ve already alluded to the “Reagan” Democrats. State Representative Jennifer Carroll is an African-American from Jacksonville – a traditionally Republican area (although appointing a woman would continue the Jeb Bush legacy).
Just as Davis’ problem is Democratic unity, Crist’s problem could be apathy among Christian Conservatives. Senator Dan Webster, a late Gallagher supporter, would be an interesting selection. Dudley Goodlette, from Southwest Florida, would add intellectual gravitas to the ticket – and would make a great liaison to the Legislature.
Other Republicans with significant experience are also harder to identify. Representative Rene Garcia would help in Miami-Dade County, and so would Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Senator Mike Haridopolos would make an all-Greek ticket, but he is waiting to run for Congress.
In the end, whomever Crist and Davis select will undoubtedly, in their mind, help their respective tickets. Once the selections are made, State of Sunshine will analyze the picks.