After a lengthy runup to last week’s primary elections, the men vying to become Florida’s next governor now must quickly pivot to select a running mate to serve as their Lieutenant Governor by the end of this Thursday afternoon.
Speaking in Jacksonville on Labor Day, Andrew Gillum told reporters that his former primary opponent – Gwen Graham – is among those he is considering.
“Gwen is in the mix, of course,” Gillum said according to Florida Politics, adding, “I’d say anyone who ran for governor is also in the mix.”
While that list includes billionaire Jeff Greene and multimillionaire Philip Levine, the next most likely person that Gillum is considering among his former opponents would be Winter Park businessman Chris King, who was the only Democrat representing Central Florida’s key Interstate 4 corridor in the contest.
King was asked frequently during the campaign if he would consider running as Lieutenant Governor and always dismissed the question. He did tell the Phoenix that if he were the nominee he would beef up the responsibilities of the position, which have become notably absent during the Rick Scott era.
Other speculation has centered on female lawmakers from the South Florida region, such Miami state Senator Lauren Book, first elected in 2016 and reelected without opposition last week.
The only other male mentioned in speculative reports is former Treasure Coast U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who at one time was considering challenging Gillum in the race.
Unlike Gillum, the campaign of Republican nominee Ron DeSantis has been considering a running mate for weeks, with POLITICO Florida reporting on August 10 that there were eight people on the short list. Though the DeSantis campaign has never officially confirmed that list, campaign manager Brad Herald acknowledged that the DeSantis camp was already looking forward to running a strong general election campaign.
Among those still considered to be in the mix are three women: Fort Myers state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, Vero Beach state Senator Debbie Mayfield and Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Laurel Lee first appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Scott in 2013 and reelected without opposition in 2014. Lee is also the wife of Florida state Senator Tom Lee.
Whomever DeSantis’Lieutenant Governor pick is, he or she will likely be introduced to the public this Thursday in Orlando, where the Florida Republican Party will hold a “unity rally” with other nominees on the November ballot slated to attend.