Frank Brogan will bolt for Florida Atlantic job
© St. Petersburg Times
TALLAHASSEE -- Less than a month into a new four-year term, Gov. Jeb Bush must now find himself a new lieutenant.
Frank Brogan on Friday was named president of his alma mater, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, a job he says he decided to seek after he was reelected lieutenant governor in November.
His new job is expected to pay about five times his current salary. He will resign about March 1.
"This was not an easy decision," Brogan said Friday after FAU trustees voted unanimously to hire him. "It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of this state."
Bush released a statement thanking Brogan, 49, for his service and calling him a "great friend and a loyal and effective partner."
Although Bush has brushed aside questions about a replacement, political observers say he needs someone who is seen as capable enough to be governor if needed.
The unanswered question is whether he will pick someone who might run for governor in 2006. Some Republicans want him to name a possible challenger to Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who already is lining up support to run for governor.
Bush has often praised Brogan as his partner, but the relationship has been strained since it became apparent that Brogan wanted to leave. At first Brogan suggested he would remain lieutenant governor through the 60-day legislative session that begins March 4, but Bush said the state should not hold on to someone once they decide to leave.
Names of possible candidates are circulating among political observers, but Bush insiders say no favorite has emerged.
Speculation is so hot that everyone took notice this week when Bush had a very public lunch with Rep. Dudley Goodlette, R-Naples.
Goodlette, a 54-year-old lawyer, was elected to the House in 1998 and quickly earned a reputation as a mature, thoughtful and smart lawmaker who knows how to get along with others.
"It was just a coincidence," Goodlette insisted after their lunch at an outdoor table at Andrews near the Capitol. "We were talking about medical malpractice and policy. He's a policy wonk."
The governor didn't bring up the job, Goodlette said. "It would be too presumptuous of me to say anything," he added. "It's not something I want to speculate over."
But Goodlette and other possible candidates say they are flattered by the suggestion.
"I have plenty on my plate right now," said Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, whom Bush has named secretary of state effective Feb. 26. "That's not an option, not that I am aware of."
Other names reportedly being considered include Ruben King-Shaw, former head of the Agency for Health Care Administration in Florida, who took a job in Washington two years ago as the deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the federal Health Care Financing Agency; former House Speaker John Thrasher, a friend of the governor's; Adam Herbert, former chancellor of the state university system; former Senate President Toni Jennings; former U.S. Rep. Tillie Fowler of Jacksonville; and Rep. Gaston Cantens, R-Miami.
"I don't know anything about it," insisted Herbert. "I'm enjoying doing what I'm doing. It would be presumptuous for anyone to discuss it at this juncture."
Thrasher has told people he would love to be lieutenant governor, but he declined to discuss it when contacted this week.
"I've shut up lately," Thrasher added. "It's almost like we are too good as friends to do it."
Some suggest Bush might make an unusual choice, or make a statement by selecting a woman or a minority. No woman or minority has ever been lieutenant governor in Florida.
Former Florida Republican Party chairman Al Cardenas said he could think of 25 people who could be likely candidates if Bush decides "to think outside the box."
Cardenas said he doesn't think the governor will select a candidate "who would create a significant food fight in the Capitol or try to run for governor."
The Florida Democratic Party says the new lieutenant governor should face voters in November 2004 because the Constitution says those appointed to replace elected officials have to face an election if more than 28 months remains in their term.
But in 1969 the Florida Supreme Court deemed the lieutenant governor an office in which a vacancy could be filled by an appointment. When a governor is filling an appointed position, the Constitution says the appointment is for the remainder of the term.
The lieutenant governor is chosen by a gubernatorial candidate and voters are instructed to choose a pair, not individual candidates.
Florida Democratic Party chairman Scott Maddox has labeled Brogan's move as "a bait and switch" trick on Floridians. He said the party is exploring its legal options.
As lieutenant governor, Brogan earns $117,990 a year. As FAU president, he is expected to get as much as $2.6-million over five years in salary and benefits, plus the use of a new $2-million home.
Brogan beat out other candidates with higher education experience. After the vote, trustee Nancy Blosser said what others on the board were thinking.
"I think we need good political access," Blosser said. "Obviously, he is a star in that regard."
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From the Times state desk
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