Florida's First Lady’s Role in Reelection

Tis the season at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee, and Friday Florida’s First Lady showed us the holiday decor. A select group of journalists was invited to tour the mansion, and as he tells us, the exclusive tour may signal the first lady has a role to play in her husband’s reelection campaign.

Deck the halls at the governor’s mansion. Christmas trees, wreaths and lights have taken over the new home of Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann. “What an exciting time to be at the Governor’s Mansion.”

Friday Ann invited a group of elementary school students and a few journalists on a tour of the mansion. Besides turning the mansion into a Jingle Bell Jungle, the Scott’s have also added a personal touch. Pictures of their two daughters and grandson Auguste are placed throughout the mansion. “Isn’t he adorable?”

This is a rare visit from Ann. She normally works behind the scenes giving tours and promoting literacy, but in a one-on-one interview Ann told me she’s ready to help her husband lead the state anyway she can. “I see my job as supporting the governor, being a goodwill ambassador.”

And that help may be needed sooner than later. Even while on the tour, signs of Former Governor Charlie Crist and his wife loomed large. “We had to find someone to paint Former First Lady Carol Crist and me.”

And just a block from the mansion is a billboard with a picture of Crist in his new job peering over at his old house. If Crist does run for governor, Ann could be used to help improve Scott’s low likability numbers, but political scientist Carol Weissert says traditionally first ladies don’t play a major role in reelection campaigns.

Carol: The wife reminds us that he also is a family person and we can sort of envision him in that kind of setting.
Reporter: But what happens once we get in the voting booth, does that matter?
Carol: It matters not a wit in the voting booth.
Ann is ready to help. She plans to spend many more holiday seasons in the Governor’s Mansion.
Reporter: How many more do you want to spend in the Governor’s Mansion?
Ann: Six
And give plenty of more tours.

The governor and first lady are hosing a holiday party tonight for the capital press corp. It’s one of half a dozen parties at the mansion this holiday season. As for Rick and Ann, they will be celebrating Christmas at their home in Naples.

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