Trying to keep the outsider label that propelled him to victory in the Republican primary for governor, millionaire businessman Rick Scott said on Sept. 2, 2010, that he's picked a fellow outsider for lieutenant governor in Jennifer Carroll.
"We have similar backgrounds," Scott said in a press conference in Brandon to announce Carroll's selection. "She's smart, she wants to work hard. She's got experience in the Legislature. She's an outsider like I am."
Carroll, who was considered as a potential running mate for Charlie Crist in 2006, has an interesting story. Let's see if it adds up to being an outsider.
Carroll, 51, was born in Port of Spain, in Trinidad, but was brought to the United States by her family at a young age.
She joined the U.S. Navy and rose from jet mechanic to become the top aide to an admiral. In 1999, she retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander and started a public relations firm, 3N. & J.C. Corp. She moved to northeast Florida in 1986.
We've already ruled that Carroll would be the second woman and first African-American woman elected lieutenant governor. That certainly puts her outside the norms of politics, as does her being born in Trinidad.
But Carroll's life after the Navy seems pretty political insider to us.
- Carroll ran for Congress in 2000 as a political newcomer. She lost to Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown despite outspending Brown 2-to-1.
- In 2001, Carroll said she talked with Vice President Dick Cheney about a job on his staff as a "domestic policy adviser." That job never materialized.
- Later that year, Carroll was nominated by Gov. Jeb Bush to run Florida's Department of Veterans Affairs. Her nomination was confirmed by the Florida Senate.
- She resigned about a year later to run again for Congress. She lost a second time to Brown.
- In 2003, she was elected to the state House in Florida District 13, where she has served ever since. She was appointed deputy majority leader by Speaker Johnnie Byrd in 2003 and served as a majority whip from 2004-2006.
Carroll's official state House biography also includes the following highlights -- Republican Club of Clay County, "Top 10" Republican Award 1999, 2002; appointed by President George W. Bush to the White House Presidential Scholars Commission, 2001-2004; appointed by President George W. Bush to the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, 2004-2007; Black Political Action Committee's 2005 Vikki Buckley Political Leadership Award.
Carroll's life story certainly has some of the hallmarks of being a political outsider. She was born outside the United States and spent 20 years working in the Navy. But after retiring from the Navy in 1999, Carroll has very much made politics a key part of her life. She twice ran for Congress, said she was in talks for a job with Vice President Cheney, ran the state's Department of Veterans Affairs, was elected to the Florida House and was considered for Crist's lieutenant governor choice in 2006. So Carroll has some outsider, and some insider. We rate Scott's statement Half True.
(Correction: This story has been updated to note that Jennifer Carroll retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander).