© 2022 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Scott PAC Takes Up Governor's Battle vs. Vocal Activist

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Just days after a customer at a Gainesville coffee shop called out Rick Scott, the Governor’s political action committee has fired back with its own video.

Last week, Scott and his entourage went into the Starbucks, where Cara Jennings was on her laptop. Upon seeing the Governor, Jennings unloaded.

“You cut Medicaid, so I couldn’t get Obamacare,” said Jennings. “You’re an a***ole. You don’t care about working people, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

She also called into question Scott’s claim that one million jobs had been created during his tenure. The Governor left the store without his coffee. In Pensacola on Thursday, he was asked about the altercation.

“I travel the state every day, a couple of cities a day, and [with] most people you have a civil discourse,” said Scott. “You saw in that video that was impossible with her. But I like traveling the state, I like talking to people. This is a great job because you get to listen to concerns.”

That’s where Scott’s Let’s Get to Work PAC comes in. Instead of addressing Jennings’ specific allegations, the PAC decided to get a few things on her for their response video.

“And it turns out that she’s a former government official, who refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and calls herself an anarchist,” said the voiceover.

“She [Jennings] is somebody who goes off at a lot of people; she considers herself an activist,” said Charles Zelden, a political scientist at Nova Southeastern University who is familiar with Jennings. He adds that the exchange left the Governor in a “no-win” situation.

“Not necessarily for attacking people in Starbucks, but as somebody who is very politically active with strong political views and feelings,” Zelden said. “I guess [Scott] could have engaged with her, but chose not to. I just don’t think he was ready for it, and he kind of ran.”

A couple of other parts of the ad -- entitled “Latte Liberal Gets an Earful” – also don’t add up for Zelden. One, the reference to the Pledge of Allegiance, and two, that the PAC would even release such an attack.

“I think they were looking for anything they could to attack and discredit this woman,” Zeldin said. “You would think this is something they would want to go through the news cycle and then go away. By engaging, this becomes ‘the story’ and as a result, it has more shelf life than it otherwise would have had.”

And with his approval rating at around 38%, Zelden says Gov. Rick Scott could face more such exchanges – and he may not be alone in this election year.

Jennings told the south Florida Sun-Sentinel paper that she sent a letter to Scott’s office asking the governor to meet for coffee to discuss her concerns, but she took the ad to mean her invitation had been declined.

Jennings told the paper she does not receive public assistance and that she was working on a freelance job at Starbucks when Scott walked in. The video prompted her to call Gov. Scott and his PAC “bullies.”

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.