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Thursday, Nov 27, 2014
Joe Henderson Columns

Henderson: Was Scott event a big deal or a rally? Yes!

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Published:   |   Updated: March 6, 2014 at 10:17 AM

You hear there’s a new people mover about to be built at Tampa International Airport, along with some other stuff, and, well ... OK.

People.

Moving.

Got it.

So if your name is Rick Scott and you are running for re-election as Florida’s governor, how do you make a campaign rally out of that?

Never underestimate the power of incumbency, which was on full display Wednesday in front of a lot of Very Important People who came to hear the governor speak about this latest phase in the $1 billion airport expansion project:

Except, well, they didn’t hear much about it.

It was more than slightly strange, starting with the fact that so many people were standing on the stage behind the governor as he spoke it looked like a picture at your high school class reunion.

1-2-3 ... SMILE!

They all smiled widely as Scott touted the approximately 7,000 JOBS! coming our way to build the people mover to the new rental car center while expanding the main terminal.

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Except, well, he didn’t actually say much about what is actually going to be built. We did learn, though, that Tampa’s 5.7 percent unemployment rate is lower than the national average.

We heard Scott praise Tampa’s Democratic mayor, Bob Buckhorn.

We heard Buckhorn gush about how much he likes to work with Scott.

We heard how much tourists like to fly to our airport.

We heard Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist assure the governor that he is “the other Crist.”

For the record, I don’t think anyone was confused.

The governor’s gift bag for this project includes $18.7 million in state money now and $175.3 million later — assuming Scott can maneuver that part through the Legislature.

Well, it is an election year.

That might explain why Scott has been here so often lately, we ought to call him cousin and start charging rent.

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He certainly isn’t the first candidate to use this tactic, and it underscores the biggest advantage he has in his re-election campaign: Charlie Crist can talk about what he will do, and Scott can talk about what he just did.

What he just did was dandy for this area.

Almost lost in the back-slapping and stump speaking was this quote from airport CEO Joe Lopano: “This is the biggest project here since the airport opened in 1971.”

Lopano seems perpetually overdosed on caffeine, but I’m inclined to come down on the side of those who say this is a really big deal.

Tampa’s ambitious plans for growth go arm-in-arm with the airport. A great city needs a great airport, and this place has been a jewel since it opened.

It’s the first place travelers see when they fly into town, and — trust me on this — anything that makes it easier to get through the terminal and to your rental car is a definite plus. We didn’t hear much about that in the presentation.

We did hear the governor declare that people are working together, which is good. That’s the kind of message a man in what probably will be a tight race this fall tries to send.

This was about re-election and hoping the people who saw this would be, well, moved.

Got it.

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