CFO Atwater bid for FAU presidency denied, Broward Dem upheaval averted


photo – Craig Pittman

As our readers doubtless know by now, CFO and Tallahassee powerhouse Jeff Atwater’s bid to leave his office to become President of Florida Atlantic University has failed. The committee in charge for selecting the new president explained its snub of Atwater citing a wish for its choice to appear apolitical in nature, though former U.S. Senator and (now-estranged) Charlie Crist protégé George LeMieux — a partisan hack in every sense — remains on the shortlist.

Had Atwater’s effort succeeded, however, the political implications would have been even more far-ranging than the appearance of insider Tallahassee influence. His exit from the cabinet would have set off a chain reaction of flux Broward County Democratic politics.

Sen. Jeremy Ring made clear his intention of running for CFO against Atwater’s interim replacement. (Ring, who also applied for the FAU job, has signaled repeatedly that he views his seat in the Florida Senate as a pit stop on the way to a loftier station.) That shuffle would have left his inland Broward 29th Senate seat open, enticing Rep. Jim Waldman to run for Ring’s seat in a 2014 special election as opposed to in the 2016 elections where he has already declared his candidacy.

Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, now running to replace the termed out Waldman in the House, was also rumored to have sensed a favorable opportunity and may have joined the scramble for the open seat against Waldman. That matchup between a strong environmentalist in Jacobs and a relative moderate in Waldman would have been interesting, though keeping them both in their current positions is probably best for now.

This shakeup may have been a healthy development since Senator Ring seems more interested in grander pursuits than representing his constituents plus SD-29 is among the very safest Democratic seats and could accommodate someone to the left of Ring, who frequently votes with Republicans on issues involving pensions and social spending. As things stand now, Ring’s best strategy to build name ID and future electoral support is to establish more trust among Florida Dems by sticking with the progressive aspects of his party: as demographics continue to change in our favor and Florida regresses to the mean away from our hardline G.O.P. leadership, it’s good advice for most legislators.

Even as the above avoiding turmoil among South County pols, Broward still looms large — George LeMieux was once chair of the Broward Republican Executive Committee and is credited with expanding the party where it is often a non-factor.

One comment

  1. Having read this I believed it was extremely informative.
    I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this informative article
    together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and
    commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


%d bloggers like this: