Fla. Gov. names new elections chief
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott tapped a longtime Tallahassee veteran on Wednesday to take over as the state's elections chief.
Scott appointed Ken Detzner to become secretary of state once Kurt Browning leaves office after the Jan. 31 presidential primary. Detzner, who has spent time working for both state government and serving as a beer industry lobbyist, already had a short stint as secretary of state in 2003 under then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
Scott last week had suggested he would like to have someone with hands-on elections experience to take over. Browning had spent 26 years as elections supervisor for Pasco County before he was appointed to secretary by then-Gov. Charlie Crist.
But Scott predicted that Detzner's past experience with the office would ensure a "smooth transition" as Florida moves into a critical election year. He also pointed out that the secretary of state — who is the state's chief cultural officer — will also be responsible for helping prepare Florida for next year's celebration of the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon's landing on the state's east coast.
"The benefit of Ken is that he has experience," Scott said. "I think Ken is going to do a great job."
Detzner's experience includes spending six years as director of legislative and policy affairs for the Attorney General's office, 13 years as executive director of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association and time as chief of staff for former Secretary of State Jim Smith.
"He's a very competent person," said Smith.
Detzner also has spent the last several years working with the Collins Center for Public Policy where he helped with the center's foreclosure mediation program. Lobbyist records show that Detzner this year has been representing two clients, including Career Edge of Manatee/Sarasota.
Detzner, 59, said the governor's office approached him about serving as secretary of state while he was talking to administration officials about a possible workday for Scott.
He said he thought about it for 24 hours and then decided to say yes.
"It's one of the most fun jobs in state government," Detzner said.
But Detzner added that the "heavy burden" and "responsibility of elections" will be something that he will focus on.
Detzner was in the job of secretary of state during a contentious period when Bush recommended shuttering the state library and relocating its collection of books to colleges in the state. The plan was eventually dropped, but public access to most of the collections was eventually eliminated.
Browning announced last week that he was leaving as secretary of state to return to his home in Pasco County where he may run for local schools superintendent.
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