Florida gov.-elect Rick Scott gets advice from predecessors

Gov. Charlie Crist, true to his populist leanings, says his successor should "listen to the people of Florida — to the criticism as well as to the praise."

Ever-colorful former Gov. Claude Kirk says Republican Governor-elect Rick Scott should ask campaign contributors who are "too full of greed and avarice" if they'd like their money back.

"If they do, call me and I'll arrange to pay them out of your way and hair," Kirk says.

The bald Scott, a multimillionaire who spent $73 million of his own money to get elected, doesn't likely need Kirk's help on either count.

But that's some of the advice he has received from ex-governors as well as former and current lawmakers and other state officials in the "Governor's Transition Decision Handbook."

Florida TaxWatch, the business-supported budget watchdog group, gave Scott the 75-page handbook shortly after the Nov. 2 election, but it was not made public until Thursday. It was compiled by a panel chaired by former Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, now State University System chancellor.

TaxWatch provided Crist and former Gov. Jeb Bush similar handbooks during their transitions.

Bush's advice for Scott, who takes office Jan. 4, includes asking "why not? — over and over and over" whenever "wonks get in the weeds" as a way to challenge them to try new approaches.

Here's what some other former governors had to offer:

— Bob Graham advised against "spreading yourself too thin" because that distracts from being successful in high-priority areas.

— Reubin Askew: "Close your office door. Let no one stampede you."

— Bob Martinez: "Don't forget the memories of meeting people (during the campaign) just because you won the election."

The legislative section ranges from basic information such as when the next session begins — March 8 — to advising a limited agenda to avoid diluting the new governor's influence.

Former Senate President Ken Pruitt, though, advises a more aggressive approach, saying "Take full advantage of your 'Honeymoon' period — there will be only one."

Former state Sen. Steve Geller, a South Florida Democrat, said it's only natural to reward friends and punish the opposition party that "helped your opponent call you a thief, liar, scoundrel or some combination of the above."

"Don't," Geller advised. "You have not been elected governor of your political party. ... You are governor of all Floridians."

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