NAPLES — Rick Scott entered a Naples restaurant and pub filled predominantly with his supporters and took a stance against Jackson Labs. Previously the candidate was somewhat unclear about his views on the proposal.
Scott, who touts his business acumen with 35 years experience, including running a giant private hospital firm, said he would bring businesses and jobs to the state if elected as Florida governor.
His campaign slogan after all is “Let's get to work.”
The Jackson Labs deal doesn't look to be the answer, he said on Sunday night.
“The way I look at all these projects, is that there is not a good return, so I wouldn't support it," said Rick Scott regarding Jackson Labs and similar Florida deals including U.S. Sugar and the Tri-Rail project
Scott, 57, said he was happy to be home for one of the the few days since entering the race in April.
It was standing room only at Mulligan's Sports Grille in Naples near the Coastland Center mall as Scott, who began with his somewhat vague and noncommittal stance on the Jackson Labs proposal in Collier County finished his sentence saying it looked to be a bad deal for taxpayers.
Regarding similar deals across the state, including U.S. Sugar and the Tri-Rail project, Scott began on Sunday as he had throughout the campaign: “Spend capital where you're going to get a return on investment.”
“Would we do this with our own money?” he asked the crowd.
After a resounding “no” from many of the hundreds of partakers in the meet and greet, Scott then said:
“The way I look at all these projects, is that there is not a good return, so I wouldn't support it,” he said.
Scott also doesn’t support the use of stimulus money, on which Jackson Labs is contingent.
Scott was surrounded by many supporters, members of the Tea Party and the Southwest Florida 912 group at the locally owned and operated restaurant.
Scott, who said smaller government and fewer regulations would create a healthier business outlook, garnered support with that stance from Naples resident Carson Beadle.
“I think regulations are killing this country,” said Beadle. “Small businesses can't keep up with it,” he said, adding that he comes from big business.
However, not everyone was decidedly for Scott, who is running against Florida career politician Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary on Tuesday.
The only other Republican in the race is Plant City's Mike McCalister, who is a poorly-funded candidate and retired military man serving as a college professor.
“There are things about McCollum that I like and there are things about Rick Scott that I like,” said Naples resident Carolyn Hoover.
Hoover said she was glad she attended because she is now leaning toward supporting Scott.
“There are a few things in his background that I'm not happy with,” Hoover said.
She alluded to the 1997 investigation launched by the federal government into the hospital giant Columbia/HCA of which Scott was the then-CEO. It became the largest health-care fraud case in U.S. history. Columbia/HCA paid a record $1.7 billion in fines, and Scott resigned amid pressure from the company’s board of directors, leaving with $300 million in stock and a $10 million severance package.
Scott also faces new allegations recently of fraud and over billing at Solantic Inc., a chain of walk-in clinics he founded in 2001.
Hoover said she likely could look past those clouds because she believes Scott is not run by special interests.
“He seems to be independent,” she said.
Scott said he supports safe off-shore drilling, seeks to decrease property taxes and will cut government spending if elected.
“Hold me accountable. You'll make me a much better governor,” he said.