Scott hires Ken Detzner as new secretary of stateby Dara Kam | January 18th, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott has tapped long-time beer lobbyist and Tallahassee insider Ken Detzner to replace retiring Secretary of State Kurt Browning.
It’s the second time Scott’s hired a former secretary of state to head the department that oversees elections and cultural affairs.
Detzner briefly served as interim secretary of state under former Gov. Jeb Bush as well as chief of staff for former Secretary of State Jim Smith. He also spent six years working for Smith when Smith was the attorney general. Detzner recently helped the attorney general’s office handle claims related to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
Detzner spent 13 years lobbying for the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association and for the past decade has worked as a government consultant and lobbyist.
Detzner said he will work with Browning, who will stay on the job to oversee the Jan. 31 GOP presidential primary, until taking over as permanent secretary on Feb. 17.
“It’s very important that we have a smooth transition. Ken will do that. He has experience. Not only do we have to make sure we have a good 2012 election cycle but I know all of us want to make sure we have a good Viva 500,” Scott told reporters this morning after introducing Detzner, a well-known figure in the Capitol. Viva 500 is a year-long celebration of Juan Ponce de Leon’s landing in Florida.
Detzner said he was approached by Scott’s staff about the job while he was in the governor’s office representing one of his clients and he asked for 24 hours to consider it.
“It’s a high honor. I made two pledges. One for transparency and openness and fairness to all the parties that are involved with the secretary of state’s office. Very important to be fair and open and honest to every party that’s involved there,” he said.
Detzner called the post “one of the most fun jobs in state government” and said he withdrew as a lobbyist this morning.
“Oh gosh, I’m excited. This is one of the most fun jobs of state government. In addition to the really heavy responsibility, being involved with the elections process, cultural affairs, historic preservation, Viva 500 next year…
All a lot of fun things to do in government but the heavy burden, the responsibility of the elections is something that I’d be very much focused on,” he said.
Some elections supervisors had hoped to have one of their colleagues take over for Browning, who spent more than three decades as Pasco County elections supervisor but Scott said he is confident that Detzner is up to the job.