Calling state Rep. Jennifer Carroll a patriot and a decorated Navy veteran, Republican gubernatorial nominee Rick Scott officially welcomed her to the GOP ticket as his choice for lieutenant governor while standing in front of Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Thursday morning.
Carroll, 51, became the first black female Republican elected to the Florida Legislature and was re-elected four terms as the District 13 representative in the state house, representing Duval and Clay counties.
Carroll, a 20-year military veteran, is a political veteran who served as executive director of Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs under Gov. Jeb Bush.
Carroll, who was born in Trinidad and immigrated to the United States as a child, lives in Fleming Island. She is married with three children.
If elected with Scott, she'll be the state's first black lieutenant governor.
?She is the embodiment of the American dream," Scott said about Carroll. "Her conservative principles are in line with mine and ensures this fall will present a clear choice between conservatives with business experience and a plan to create 700,000 jobs and liberal Obamacrats who want to bring the failed Obama agenda to Florida.?
In her remarks, Carroll acknowledged supporting Scott's opponent, Bill McCollum, in the primary -- saying she made a promise to him early and it is important to keep your word. She said she grew to respect Scott during his campaign and said that her experience in the Legislature will complement his business experience in running Florida's executive branch.
"The bottom line is Rick and I share a common vision for the state of Florida. It's about jobs, jobs, jobs -- the economy," Carroll said. ?Rick and I share core conservative principles like lower taxes, less regulation, and smaller government.?
Gov. Charlie Crist considered Carroll as his running mate four years ago and she was on his short list for an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat when Mel Martinez resigned last year.
Her name was among several allegedly being considered for lieutenant governor. All those reportedly under consideration -- including Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, former Mayor John Delaney, state Rep. Mike Weinstein and former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings -- have held significant elective office,something Scott has not.
Carroll openly supported Bill McCollum in the Republican primary for governor and spoke on his behalf at a rally. She did not attend at a Scott rally in Jacksonville on Tuesday, but was reportedly attending a meeting of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women in Gainesville.
Marcella Washington, a political science professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville, has been doing research on black women elected officials in Duval County. She said Carroll slightly to the left of Scott politically, but not too far.
"Jennifer Carroll is an established 'insider' and she is loyal to the Republican Party leadership. That brand might be what Rick Scott was looking for, since he ran against the party establishment as a bona fide 'outsider,'" Washington told News4Jax.com "If she is visible and given the stage, she may bring a moderate style into the Scott campaign."
At Thursday's announcement Scott said Carroll will play an important role not only in the election, but in the running the state.
"She will be my partner to make sure we implement everything we talk about during the primary and what we talk about during the general (election)," Scott said.
State Sen. Stephen Wise said that Carroll's legislative experience will help a Rick Scott administration.
"I think she'll be ... a great person to advise him and keep in the right direction," Wise told Channel 4's Jason Law.
Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee for governor, also picked a running mate with legislative experience who lives in northeast Florida. One week before the primary, she announced that former state Rep. Rod Smith, of Gainesville, would join her on the ticket.
Smith, is a former state attorney with a reputation for being able to work across party lines, is perhaps best known as the prosecutor who convicted Danny Rolling of killing five people in Gainesville in 1990.
While the F/A-18 at the main gate of NAS Jacksonville served as the backdrop of the announcement, the Navy made the campaign set up on city property almost to the sidewalk along Roosevelt Boulevard so the Navy would not been affiliated with the campaign event.
After the first announcement, Scott and Carroll made a second Jacksonville appearance at Duval County's GOP headquarters on Beach Boulevard before heading to Orlando and Tampa for similar campaign stops.