Scott retools team amid poll numbers scraping bottomby John Kennedy | June 23rd, 2011
With approval ratings scraping bottom and his name a virtual laugh line for Democrats, Gov. Rick Scott is retooling his leadership team, with a pair of top aides departing and a veteran government insider expected to join the administration.
Scott Chief-of-Staff Mike Prendergast, a retired Army colonel, was officially moved Wednesday to executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, taking with him his $150,000 salary and becoming one of the governor’s best-paid agency heads.
The move came a day after Mary Anne Carter, a top Scott adviser, announced she will leave at the end of the month. Carter guided Scott’s campaign last summer, helping the former health care executive win his first run for elected office — powered by spending $73 million of his own cash.
Meanwhile, Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ chief-of-staff, Steve MacNamara, is considered a likely successor to Prendergast. MacNamara served in a similar role in the House, led a state agency and is a tenured professor at Florida State University.
“Steve is a master of the business of politics and policy,” said Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, in line to become Senate president next year. “He would be a real asset to this governor.”
While high-profile staff changes are not unusual, Scott’s recent predecessors, former Govs. Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, managed to get through at least the first year without an overhaul.
Scott, who will reach his six-month mark in office July 4, may feel some urgency to re-pivot because of recent polls.
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