TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott, going on four months without a lieutenant governor, hasn't been in a rush to pick a new one.
He also hasn't given much thought to what he wants a new No. 2 to do.
"Well, right now, we just finished (the legislative) session and we're still reviewing all these bills, so that's what I'm focused on right now," Scott said recently, when asked what duties he would assign to that person.
In fact, Scott doesn't need a lieutenant governor until September 2014, when his running mate must be selected by law for re-election purposes. Though he no doubt will pick someone sooner, the vacancy gives him an opportunity to rethink the position, observers said.
Lieutenant governors serve in a position that could be described as "in case of emergency, break glass."
Jennifer Carroll, who served under Scott until her March resignation, didn't have a specific job portfolio but still spent more than $200,000 in state funds on travel in 2011, according to reports.
Scott's options range from having his lieutenant give out awards, to tasking him or her to head a state department, according to state law.
Other states, such as Texas, have powerful lieutenant governors, while five states -- Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Wyoming -- get by without one.
"The value in that office is if you get a lieutenant governor to do something more than go around and give speeches at civic clubs," said Bob Sanchez, policy director for The James Madison Institute, a conservative, Florida-based think tank.
Carroll, who was paid $125,000 a year, quit after an investigation into an Internet gambling operation resulted in almost 60 arrests. Carroll, who is not accused of wrongdoing, had done public relations work for the company before her election. She did not respond to written questions submitted last week.
With no second-in-command, Attorney General Pam Bondi -- formerly Hillsborough County's top prosecutor -- is next in line to become acting governor.
The lieutenant governor's post, abolished in 1885, was brought back in the 1968 rewriting of the state constitution. The constitution now says there "shall be a lieutenant governor, who shall perform such duties pertaining to the office of governor as shall be assigned by the governor, except when otherwise provided by law, and such other duties as may be prescribed by law."
State law doesn't add much, though.
In the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the law says the lieutenant governor can declare a state of emergency "arising from the discharge of oil, petroleum products or their byproducts." Another law exempts the lieutenant governor from jury duty.
But state law does say that the "Governor may assign the Lieutenant Governor, without Senate confirmation, the duty of serving as the head of any one department, the head of which is a secretary appointed by the Governor ..."
For example, Wayne Mixson, lieutenant governor under Democratic Gov. Bob Graham, also served as head of the state's now-defunct Commerce Department.
"The office has been generally underutilized," Mixson said. "It's kicked around by people who don't understand what it can be."
Lieutenant governors "should have things to do," said former Gov. Bob Martinez. "But it's the governor's prerogative how he wants to use that person."
Martinez, a Republican who also served as Tampa's mayor and as the federal government's "drug czar," said he had his lieutenant, Bobby Brantley, help him press his legislative agenda with the House and Senate.
"Mainly, the governor has to choose based on who he can get along with," Martinez said.
The structure in other states is across the board:
Texas' lieutenant governor serves simultaneously as the state's Senate president, is elected separately and can be a member of a different political party than the governor. That person decides committee membership, leadership and which bills the chamber will consider.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst made the news last week for his role in cutting off a senator's filibuster against a bill that opponents said would have all but banned abortions in that state.
California's lieutenant governor also is that state's Senate president, voting in case of a tie.
The position includes membership on the Board of Regents of the University of California, board of trustees of the California State University system and chairman of the California Commission for Economic Development, among other duties, the state's website says.
Still, current Calif. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, formerly San Francisco's mayor, has called the job "dull" and told the Sacramento Bee he only commutes to the capital a couple of days a week.
Massachusetts' lieutenant governor just quit for another job, and that state's Constitution makes no provisions for an appointed replacement.
That means Gov. Deval Patrick has to go without an understudy until his term ends in January 2015.
Some states, such as Illinois, may get rid of the job. Its House last month approved a proposed constitutional amendment abolishing the lieutenant governor's office.
The governor, Pat Quinn, was a lieutenant governor who moved up in 2009 when his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, was impeached.
Others have added it. New Jersey, which hadn't had a lieutenant governor since Colonial days, created one in 2005 after serial vacancies in the governor's office caused the Senate president to repeatedly step in.
Critics there said that caused a concentration of legislative and executive power in one person who wasn't elected statewide.
Former Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who served under Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, said the beauty of Florida's position is that it has no assigned duties.
Kottkamp, who served in the state House from 2000-06, said he used the job to be Crist's "lobbyist-in-chief" to the Legislature. But he also was chairman of Space Florida and the Florida Sports Foundation, and oversaw the Office of Drug Control and the Film and Entertainment Office.
In picking Carroll's replacement, "this is an opportunity for this governor to have a teammate who's got his back on a lot of stuff," said Kottkamp, now a Tallahassee-based lobbyist. "... Look, it's a big job."
Twitter: @jlrosicaTBO ___
Doctored Newspaper Front Page
Florida Governor Rick Scott's Facebook managers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/rick-scott-facebook_n_1417499.html?utm_hp_ref=rick-scott" target="_hplink">posted an image containing a doctored <em>Miami Herald </em>headline</a>, prompting the paper's managing editor to demand it be removed. The post, since deleted from the Governor's social media page, swapped in the headline "New Law Helps Put Floridians Back To Work" in place of the paper's original headline from 2007, "Murders Highlight Rise In Crime In Guatemala" -- making it appear an editorial from the governor had run above the fold on the <em>Herald</em>'s front page.
Non-Transparent Transparency Program
After Florida Governor Rick Scott encouraged journalists to access his emails through his transparency program Project Sunburst in lieu of filing public records requests,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/rick-scott-emails-omitted-project-sunburst_n_1723747.html" target="_hplink"> it was revealed that emails to his official email account weren't in fact included</a> -- Project Sunburst was only displaying emails sent to a second account that appears on Florida Tea Party websites. As a result at least one news report included a positively-skewed view of Scott after his Lt. Governor made anti-gay comments.
"Prayers" In Public Schools
Scott approved <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/florida-house-inspirational-messages-bill-approved_n_1313368.html" target="_hplink">SB 98, which means that Florida students are now allowed to deliver "inspirational messages" </a>that include everything from prayers to manifestos at mandatory school events.
Refuses Affordable Care Act
In a statement, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/01/florida-health-care-law_n_1641990.html?utm_hp_ref=miami&ir=Miami" target="_hplink">the governor said the healthcare law would not aid</a> economic growth in his state "and since Florida is legally allowed to opt out, that's the right decision for our citizens."
Scott met with King Juan Carlos of Spain during his economic development mission and immediately managed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/rick-scott-king-of-spain-elephant_n_1542066.html?utm_hp_ref=rick-scott" target="_hplink">to bring up the uncomfortable topic of the monarch's disastrous elephant hunting trip to Botswana</a>.
Ads On State Trails
In the midst of old-growth live oak hammocks, wild orchids, and vistas of Lakes Wales Ridge in Lake Kissimmee State Park, Florida hikers may soon see signs boasting "Buster Island Loop, brought to you by Pollo Tropical." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/rock-scott-ads-state-trails_n_1502972.html" target="_hplink">Governor Rick Scott approved a bill </a>permitting advertising on state greenways and trails, which went into effect July 1, 2012.
The Governor is in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over the state's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/26/rick-scott-florida-governor-voter-list_n_1628607.html?utm_hp_ref=rick-scott" target="_hplink">effort to remove non-U.S. citizens from lists of registered voters </a>ahead of this year's presidential election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Reverses Ban On Dying Animals Artificial Colors
Just before Easter, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/07/rick-scott-approves-artif_n_1409749.html" target="_hplink">Florida Governor Rick Scott approved an agricultural bill, which permits animals to be dyed neon green and dayglo pink</a>.
Random Drug Testing
The governor passed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/drug-testing-florida-state-workers-lawmakers_n_1300331.html" target="_hplink">a law permitting state agencies to randomly drug test employees every 3 months</a>.
49,000 Voters Discouraged From Polls
Florida took center stage in the 2012 elections, when voters around the state had to wait in line at the polls for up to nine hours. Gov. Rick Scott (R) initially denied that there was any problem, saying it was "very good" that people were getting out to vote. But a new study shows that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/19/rick-scott-not-favored-by_n_2328614.html?utm_hp_ref=rick-scott" target="_hplink">tens of thousands of people were actually discouraged from voting because of the long lines</a>. According to an analysis by Theodore Allen, an associate professor of industrial engineering at Ohio State University, as many as 49,000 individuals in Central Florida did not vote because of the problems at the polls.
Dismal Approval Rating -- Even Amongst GOP
Most Florida voters, including Republicans, would like to see Gov. Rick Scott (R) challenged in 2014, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/19/rick-scott-not-favored-by_n_2328614.html?utm_hp_ref=rick-scott" target="_hplink">according to a poll released by Quinnipiac University</a>. More than half of voters said Scott didn't deserve a second term, and 55 percent, including 53 percent of Republicans, wanted another candidate to challenge the governor in a primary. Scott's approval ratings, though improved from 2011, were also underwater.
Cost Taxpayers $1 Million In Legal Fees
Governor Rick Scott's long list of controversial legislation -- including tweaking the state's pension plans, require drug testing of those on welfare, cutting teachers' pay, and purging voters -- may have cost Florida taxpayers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/31/rick-scott-costs-florida-_n_2388780.html" target="_hplink">upwards of $1 million in legal bills</a>. The latest legal bill tallies at $190,000 after a federal court ruled that Florida has to pay the attorney fees as Scott fights for the right to drug test state workers. The Orlando Sentinel found that Scott has already cost taxpayers nearly $900,000 in attorney fees as he fights for his conversational legislation, making this latest legal bill tilt the tally over $1 million.
First-Time Drug Offenders
Florida Governor Rick Scott <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/gov-rick-scott-vetoes-bil_n_1414758.html">vetoed a widely popular bill that would send certain non-violent drug addicts to treatment after serving half their sentences</a>. “He said it was a 'public safety’ issue. No it’s not,” said bill sponsor Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale) according to the Miami Herald. “These are non-violent drug offenders.” The bill, a rare common sense favorite during a legislative season that saw Scott approve dying animals and Jay-Z lyrics debated on the House floor, was opposed by only four state lawmakers.
Docs. vs. Glocks
Gov. Scott <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/docs-vs-glocks-appeal-ric_n_1720370.html">pushed back when a federal judge ruled</a> a law gagging Florida physicians from asking patients if they owned guns unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge cited the government-imposed gag order as a violation of free speech protection under the First Amendment.
Campaign finance reports show Florida Governor Rick Scott -- who framed recent evidence-defying efforts to purge state voter rolls, limit registration and reduce early voting hours as a protection of "honest" elections -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/rick-scott-hired-boletera-boletero_n_1890552.html">hired an alleged Miami-Dade absentee ballot broker during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign</a>. Scott's campaign paid a $5,000 "contract labor" fee to 74-year-old Hialeah resident Emelina Llanes, who was identified as a so-called boletera to the Miami Herald and by El Nuevo Herald, multiple Miami-Dade watchdog blogs, and former Hialeah Police Chief Rolando Bolaños.
Closes TB Hospital
In an austerity measure, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and state representatives <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/09/florida-tuberculosis-outbreak-kept-secret_n_1658916.html">voted to close A.G. Holley State Hospital in Palm Beach County, the state's only tuberculosis hospital</a>, citing a decline in Florida TB cases since 2010. But according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida was suffering one of the largest uncontained TB outbreaks in 20 years -- and the largest spike nationwide -- resulting in 13 deaths and 99 illnesses, mostly among the homeless.
Gives Out Number For Sex Hotline
Florida governor Rick Scott <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/rick-scott-phone-sex-hotline-meningitis_n_1954060.html">accidentally sent constituents seeking information on a fungal meningitis outbreak to a phone sex hotline</a>.
Vetoed Funding For Mass Animal Deaths Research
The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University was counting on $2 million in state funds to study the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/indian-river-lagoon_n_3472190.html?utm_hp_ref=rick-scott" target="_hplink">dead pelicans, manatees, and dolphins piling up at Indian River Lagoon, described as a 'killing zone</a>.' Scott vetoed the funding.
Sped Up Death Penalty
Scott <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/death-penalty_n_3459048.html?utm_hp_ref=rick-scott" target="_hplink">signed a law that will speed up Florida's execution process</a>. The governor now must sign a death warrant within 30 days of the Supreme Court certifying that an inmate has exhausted all appeals. The execution date must be six months from the date of the warrant.