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Why won’t Rick Scott ride the giant slide at the Florida State Fair?

By Christopher Spata
Published: February 7, 2018 Updated: February 8, 2018 at 03:55 PM
Attorney General Pam Bondi, third from left, slides down the giant slide after the 2018 Annual Governor's Day Luncheon on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA | Times]

UPDATED: It appears that Florida Gov. Rick Scott will end his tenure as governor without ever taking a ride down the giant slide at the Florida State Fair.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam tweeted a photo from the fair showing Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis sliding down the slide, but Scott was absent from the fun.

The Florida State Fair slide is one of the best parts of my official duties.

— Adam Putnam (@adamputnam) February 8, 2018

Todayís Governorís Day at the fair was Scottís last chance to participate in the annual photo op with his cabinet. No word on whether the governorís hesitation to slide has anything to do with not wanting to lose a race to the bottom against Putnam, a theory put forward by Republican consultant and former Scott spokesman Brian Burgess below.

Original story below.

For years thereís been a reliable photo opportunity at the opening day of the Florida State Fair: state politicians zipping down the giant slide.

Photos of fairs past show Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi sliding, her arms gleefully raised roller coaster-style, as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnamís tie flaps in the breeze, zooming over the rolling yellow hills.

Another shows then-Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater getting sideways on his special slide rug ó or potato sack, or whatever those things are ó as he holds Bondiís hand and Putnam pumps a fist victoriously. Beaming smiles all around.

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Whoís noticeably absent from fun in every slide photo, year after year? Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Does the governor hate fun? Heights? Slides? (The governorís office did not respond to a request for comment).

Scott and his cabinet return to the Florida State Fairgrounds this morning to "flip the switch" and power up the midway, sip orange juice with local farmers at the Fresh From Florida breakfast and attend the Governorís Day Luncheon.

At some point, theyíll be offered that annual ride on the giant slide. Itís Scottís final chance as governor to partake in the fun before his final term ends. Could this be the year he finally goes for it?

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"Thereís a couple rules in politics," said Republican media strategist Rick Wilson, when asked about the strategic pros and cons of politicians on slides. "One is never pose with anyone wearing a clown costume. The other one is never eat anything on camera.

"I think Rick Scott may have created another one: never be photographed going down a slide."

Is it possible that Scott deep down wants nothing more than to join the fun and take that big metal plunge, but feels self conscious about it?

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"Itís really about his comfort zone. Rick Scott is a guy whoís locked on mission," Wilson said. "Heís all about jobs, jobs. Heís not a person who has necessarily loved the theatrical aspect of politics and campaigning."

Brian Burgess, a Republican consultant and former Scott spokesman has another theory.

"Itís simple, really. He is very competitive and even if itís not really a race down the slide, he still would want to finish first," Burgess said. "But he doesnít weigh enough, and he knows Adam Putnam weighs more and thus would smoke him if they were to actually race down the slide at the same time."

Meanwhile, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis faces his own giant slide decision today in his first state fair since taking office last summer. Is he a slider, or no?