TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Governor Rick Scott was sworn in for a second term shortly after noon Tuesday, beginning a new four years in office that in some ways brings as many questions as the first.
Scott took the oath of office on the steps of the Old Capitol during a sunny, cool day in Tallahassee. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi also were sworn in to start their second terms, as was Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who took office early last year.
Scott, a former health-care executive who shocked the political establishment by getting elected in 2010 and came from behind to beat former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2014, now moves from the challenges of governing as a newcomer to the challenges of holding off lame-duck status as attention shifts to the 2016 presidential campaign and, two years later, to the race to succeed him.
In his inaugural address, excerpts of which were released Monday, Scott was expected to pitch Florida to residents of states with Democratic governors and repeat some of the small-government conservative prescriptions that got him elected in 2010, before he eased off hard-edged conservatism in his re-election bid.
“In Florida we are proving that government can do better without getting bigger,” Scott, who has seen state spending grow from a shade under $70 billion in his first budget to around $77 billion in the current year, said in one of the excerpts.
Scott was joined for the inauguration by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — both potential 2016 presidential candidates — along with other dignitaries including former Florida Govs. Bob Martinez and Wayne Mixson.
The day began with a prayer breakfast at Florida A&M University that was attended by Scott and First Lady Ann Scott, their daughters, Lopez-Cantera, Atwater, Putnam, FAMU President Elmira Mangum and a number of legislators and state agency heads.
The speakers, who represented a wide array of faiths, called on Floridians to pray for Scott’s term in office.
“Our dear governor can’t do it on his own,” said keynote speaker Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University in Southwest Florida. “He needs the help of God and the prayers and effort of each one of us. … Democracy is not a spectator sport.”
Acting as host was Kirt Anderson, the pastor of Naples Community Church, which the Scotts attend. Upon taking the podium, Anderson quipped, “I thought I was going to have a fan” — a reference to Crist, whose use of a fan to keep cool during one of their debates sparked a controversy.
Scott has ditched some of the traditional inauguration festivities in Tallahassee, instead opting for a post-election tour of the state to tout the economic recovery. He held a reception Monday night at the governor’s mansion, watching a video reviewing his second campaign and delivering brief remarks in line with the themes his inaugural.
“We will be No 1 as the global hub for business,” Scott said.”And that’s our whole agenda for the next four years.”
The News Service of Florida’s Brandon Larrabee and Margie Menzel contributed to this report.