TALLAHASSE, Fla. — Buoyed by the support of Florida’s governor, Republican Jimmy Patronis is going to seek a full four-year term as the state’s chief financial officer.
Patronis officially filed paperwork on Wednesday to run for the Cabinet post in 2018. The 45-year-old Patronis was appointed in June by Gov. Rick Scott.
It’s rare for Scott, who jolted the state’s GOP establishment in 2010 when he first ran for governor, to take sides in a Republican primary. Patronis, however, was an early ally of Scott’s and has been appointed to other posts by the governor.
Scott is helping Patronis raise money even though other Republicans, including Sen. Tom Lee, are expected to also seek the job. Former State Sen. Jeremy Ring, a former executive at Yahoo and a Democrat, is also running
Patronis followed Jeff Atwater who ended his political career early this year to take a job at Florida Atlantic University.
Even though he’s been in office just a few months, Patronis said in an interview that “it’s the best job in state government.”
Florida’s chief financial officer is elected statewide and is a member of the state Cabinet that oversees several key agencies. The chief financial officer, who is also the state fire marshal, plays a key role in helping regulate the financial and insurance industries and also functions as the state’s treasurer.
Patronis, who helped his family run a Panama City restaurant, has never run statewide before. He was a member of the Florida Legislature for eight years before the governor appointed him to the state board that regulates utilities.
“Is Patronis a household name around every kitchen table? Probably not,” Patronis said. “That’s on me to earn the people’s trust. I’ll work every day.”
Democrats quickly criticized Patronis decision to seek a full term, calling him a “yes-man” who had no qualifications for the job.
“In typical Rick Scott fashion, he has put his own interests over Florida families, and has set-up an unqualified crony to run for one of the most important positions in the state,” said Johanna Cervone, a spokeswoman for the Florida Democratic Party.