POLITICS
05/13/2013 05:24 pm ET Updated May 14, 2013

Rick Scott Says Allen West Would Make 'Great' Lieutenant Governor

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) opened the door to a comeback for former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) Friday, saying he'd be a "great" pick for his second in command.

Scott told AM Tampa Bay on WFLA radio Friday that he believes West would be a good pick to fill the lieutenant governor's office, vacated in March by former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R). Scott has indicated he will name Carroll's successor soon, and had planned to wait until after the state Legislature adjourned last week.

Scott told WFLA that he had not settled on a pick for lieutenant governor, but then praised West, saying that the former congressman "is a great American and a great patriot ... he'd be a great lieutenant governor."

Carroll resigned in March after meeting with FBI investigators regarding previous lobbying work she had done for an internet cafe company in the state. Under the terms of the Florida constitution, Scott can name Carroll's successor for the remainder of the term, which expires in January 2015.

But West and Scott have had a turbulent relationship in recent months, with the staunchly conservative West criticizing Scott's endorsement of accepting federal funds to expand Florida's Medicaid program under the federal health care reform law. Scott was one of several GOP governors to make such an endorsement, but the GOP-controlled state Legislature did not pass the Medicaid expansion. Yet West criticized Scott's decision, noting that the tea party opposed the move and that most Republican governors had rejected expanding Medicaid.

West said the choice had people asking where Scott's "backbone" was. Yet in March, West backed Scott for reelection next year.

Scott's pick for lieutenant governor would likely be his running mate in 2014. He is facing an uphill reelection campaign, with only a third of Floridians saying that he should win a second term.

Florida's lieutenant governor has no official duties except taking over in the event of Scott leaving office before his term expires. Carroll handled aerospace and military issues for Scott. Only two lieutenant governors, Democrats Wayne Mixson and Buddy MacKay, succeeded to the governorship, both for brief terms. The office would give West, who lost a 2012 congressional bid, a statewide platform to resume his political career.

As for potential Scott picks for lieutenant governor, the Miami Herald in March named state Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami, state Reps. Doug Holder of Sarasota and Jimmy Patronis of Panama City, and Miami-Dade County School Board member Raquel Regaldo.

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