With a decision on SunRail forthcoming any day now, Gov. Rick Scott finds himself in a very precarious position. He simply cannot please everyone and his decision, be it in favor of SunRail or opposed, is destined to upset an important bloc that will be critical to future successes.
Yes, it goes with the territory, but if one could venture inside Scott’s head for a moment, it would be interesting to see if being Governor of Florida is what he expected it to be going in.
After rejecting high speed rail and vetoing $615 Million from the Florida Legislature’s budget, it’s not hard to imagine that the political elite in the state, a.k.a. the ‘establishment’, a.k.a. the ‘good ol’ boy network’, are not too thrilled with our freshly minted Governor.
Gov. Scott’s budget vetoes drew the ire of the true power within the state GOP, House Speaker Dean Cannon, who was very forthcoming in how disappointed he was with those decisions. In addition, state Sen. Thad Altman is still yapping at Scott’s heels like a rabid chihuahua over high speed rail, jumping at any and all opportunities to run the Governor into the ground.
And we must never forget that Rick Scott is an outsider in Tallahassee. He had the audacity to challenge, and defeat, the ‘chosen one’, Bill McCollum, and will forever be an outsider to the current GOP power structure in the state.
Along with these distractions, Scott’s poll numbers are in the tank, in large part because he has become the convenient whipping post for many of the decisions made during the 2011 Florida Legislative Session.
Of course, the Left are tripping all over themselves to jump on these poll numbers and project Scott as the ‘most unpopular Governor in America’ – a strategy designed to improve Obama’s chances of carrying Florida in the 2012 Presidential Election. And as goes Florida, so goes the nation. Something Thad Altman and a few others should take note of.
It also begs the question, just how much of a price are the political elite willing to pay to retain their stranglehold on power? The Presidency?
Back to SunRail… considering all the above and the tepid level of opposition put up by much of the grassroots on the issue, does Rick Scott have the political capitol needed to turn down SunRail and further alienate powerful elected officials and important business leaders?
When rejecting HSR, Rick Scott had a powerful ally in Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who came out in opposition to the project. This provided Scott with all too important political cover as he took on the power structure. With SunRail, he does not have this same level of support to protect his flank – interestingly, the three major U.S. Senate candidates are quiet on the topic.
Ultimately, SunRail is an important decision, and I want to be clear that I do not support SunRail. I believe it will cost taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars for years to come when all is said and done. I believe there will be significant cost overruns and that the ridership projections are heavily over inflated.
But if the Governor rejects it, will it be the tipping point that leads to open hostility with the power structure in the state? Is it a hill worth dying on?
Scott’s grassroots supporters have enjoyed their fair share of successes to date, with HSR being the crown jewel. For the most part, the Governor has done what he said he would do going into office. He is an outsider, which is what the grassroots profess to want. If he disappoints them on this issue, do they throw the baby out with the bathwater?
The greatest strength and greatest weakness of grassroots is the emotion that drives it. That emotion is what allows them to accomplish great things that politicos don’t think is possible, however, at times, it prevents them from being pragmatic and looking long term.
There are other important issues, such as the 2012 Presidential Election. And Gov. Scott will play a critical role in that outcome. As a defunct Executive that lost the support of the state party, that role will not be in favor of conservatives looking to limit Barack Obama to one term.
Unless the grassroots can muster a last minute campaign on a level that will provide the necessary political coverage, Rick Scott, it is incumbent upon you that you live to fight another day.