Alex Sink to run again for governor? "Never say never"

09/16/11 Janelle Irwin
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Former gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink promoted her new non-profit, Florida Next, at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club Friday afternoon. The move has some wondering if it’s an attempt to keep her in the limelight so she can take a second shot at beating Rick Scott. Sink isn’t commenting on a potential bid for governor, but is emphasizing the importance of her organization.

Former Governor Jeb Bush has something in common with Alex Sink; they both lost an election. Bush answered his defeat with the creation of a non-profit think tank and secured himself a win the next time around. Sink seems to be following in his footsteps, but won’t say whether or not the suspicions are warranted.

"I've just learned at my stage in life to never say never, and never project what might happen three or four years into the future. So, that's my answer."

Much has changed in the political atmosphere since Sink's first run for the governor’s mansion last year. Sink lost the election by only about 1% of the vote. Tiger Bay member Carl Zielonka would like to see another bid by the state’s former Chief Financial Officer.

"If she runs I'll support her that's for sure. I would only hope she runs a little better campaign than she did the first time, but I think she's got better ammunition to use this time and I think she could do it. But she gave a typical politicians answer which is a non-answer."

But Sink said she thinks the reasons she lost so narrowly were out of her control.

"He did spend $75 million of his own money. And when you get into a political campaign where the opponent is outspending the competition by two to, or three to one, it makes it very difficult because money plays a very important part in American politics today. Particularly in a state as large as Florida. And secondly, let's look at what was happening in the entire rest of the country. There was certainly a huge, enormous Republican sweep."

Florida Next was just approved as a non-profit organization and is, as Sink described it, still very small. The ideas associated with it are not though. Sink plans to bring together ideas that will promote innovation in the state. Sink said Florida felt the effects of the recession before most other states and it looks like the state will be one of the last to recover. She is hopeful that Florida Next will bring change and not just talk.

"Why is Tampa Bay not coming back as fast as some other communities? What is wrong with our structural economy here that we're not coming back like Orlando appears to be, or like Miami and South Florida appear to be. We want to be very fact based, but we also want to be solutions oriented. And we're going to think a lot, yes. But I don't want a think tank. We're going to have a think and do tank."

Sink said politicians alone are not finding solutions to the problems facing the state and the nation.

"I think we've already seen that the best ideas are not necessarily coming from the government. They truly are coming from non-governmental organizations and from community and citizen activism."

One topic she plans to look into is education. Sink said she is disappointed in the state’s drop in SAT reading scores. Hillsborough County School Board member Candy Olsen said more people are taking the standardized college entrance exam and that is what’s causing score averages to drop. She said not all kids are destined for traditional four year universities, but no one has talked about alternatives.

"I think we ought to have a very broad conversation about what kids need to know to be whole human beings. Some kids don't need to know algebra. You know, they need to know pieces of it as it applies to their life, but we've created this fiction that every child must go to college to be successful. Every child needs something after high school, but many of them don't need to go to a traditional four-year liberal arts school, they need to get a certificate or an associate's degree or something that gives them a job with a good income."

She added this is an important topic that deserves more attention than it’s been given.

"That still doesn't excuse the fact that kids aren't reading effectively. Maybe we're not teaching them right, maybe we're not teaching them the kind of reading they really need to do, maybe they don't understand that it's relevant. It's a concern, people need to be able to read and think critically, look at who people vote for."

Tampa Tiger Bay President Joseph Citro asked Sink if she would consider making an official announcement about her plans to run for Governor in 2014 at a Tiger Bay meeting. Sink said there’s one thing she’s learned in politics and that is to never make promises.

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