Podcast: Discussing Florida’s Executive Office with Former Governor Bob Martinez
In the ninth episode of our "Florida Capital Conversations" podcast series, Former Governor Bob Martinez provides insight into the executive branch and shares his fascinating and versatile personal journey to becoming the Governor of Florida. Governor Martinez discusses his time owning a restaurant, serving as Vice Chairman of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, becoming mayor, and eventually, governor of Florida and so much more.
This Tallahassee-based podcast series takes a look at the many different aspects of state and local government through the lens of experienced legal professionals. Hosted by attorneys Nate Adams and Mia McKown, these candid conversations offer a seat at the table to everyone who listens.
Nate Adams: Welcome to our Florida Capital Conversations podcast series. Today, our subject is the executive branch of state government, and our guest is none other than Former Governor Bob Martinez. My name is Nathan Adams. My co-host is Mia McKown. We're so pleased that you have joined us today to consider another important issue associated with state government affecting the business community and our daily lives as Floridians. And there's none better than Governor Martinez to kick off our discussion about the executive branch of state government. Mia, why don't you start us off.
Mia McKown: Good afternoon, Nate. It's nice to be here again. And Governor Martinez, thank you so much for joining us. Before we get into talking about the executive branch, you've had a long career in public service. Could you tell us a little bit about the public offices that you've held that kind of led up to you becoming governor of our state?
The Build-Up to Becoming Governor: Experience in Public Offices
Bob Martinez: Yeah, Mia, it's a pretty long trip, quite honestly. Before I became a member of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), for about nine years, I was a Chief Lobbyist for the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, also the leading lobbyist off into the Florida Education Association. So my first stay in Tallahassee was in 1965, when the legislature met every other year and the governor was only allowed to have one term of office, while the cabinet members had unlimited terms that they could serve. So that's how I cut my teeth in terms of dealing with Tallahassee as a lobbyist for education. But I was also active, quite frankly, on the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. In fact, I was on the teacher organization, I was still on the board of directors of the Local Chamber of Commerce. So I was sort of spreading my wings in different directions, not just with public employees, but there I was involved with a big chamber that served the people of Tampa. You know, I get asked a lot "How did you get into politics?" And it started with Reubin Askew holding public office. I had stopped representing teachers. My background is labor and industrial relations, I have a degree in that, and I first represented employers and then I moved over to the teachers.
So I was on both sides of the fence as a hired gun, so to speak, by virtue of being retained by one side or the other. But by that time, I was getting tired of it, and my uncle owned a major restaurant in Tampa and he decided that he wanted to retire. And my wife and I, Mary Jane, decided that maybe it was a change for us as well. So we bought it, which is probably what led me towards the political world, quite frankly. I bought the restaurant in May, and in June in the middle of lunch, the late Governor Reubin Askew, who was a friend and I had been involved with his campaigns calls me when I'm trying to seat people for lunch and asked if I would serve in the Southwest Water Management District Board. So I said "Reubin, I just bought a restaurant that I don't know a thing about. I'm trying to learn how to buy, how to manage the staff, dealing with all the customers trying to hold my uncle's customers and get new, younger customers to come to the restaurant. And I don't think I can do it." Well, he wouldn't get off the phone, he says "I don't want to appoint anybody that wants it." There was a lot, there was a major water war happening in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco, and it was very bitter between those cities and the counties at that time. And after about 30 minutes on the phone, he finally said they only meet once a month. So I said "Fine, I'll do it Reubin, I'll go ahead and take the assignment." Well, what he didn't mention is that the Southwest Water Management District Board has basin boards, and Hillsborough had three basin boards. As a result of having three basin boards, I had three other meetings and chairing those three basin boards. And some of them met for two days, not one day, so it turned out to be much more than the governor had told me it would be. But that's how I got started, and I'm glad I took that assignment. For a while there, I thought I had made a mistake, running the restaurant and having many people come to the restaurant talking to me about water and what they wanted, you know the whole thing. So then I got lobbied. It had been nine years I'd been lobbying, now for the first time I'm being lobbied. That was quite a change for me now from one side to the other.
It had been nine years I'd been lobbying, now for the first time I'm being lobbied. That was quite a change for me now from one side to the other.
Mia McKown: I actually knew Governor Askew too. And, the point that he said to you "There are a lot of people that want this job, but I don't want to appoint them because they want it." And he was such a stickler for ethics and fair treatment and, you know, the open government. He was such a good guy, such a good man. And I found that just that comment that he made to you and who he was looking to serve very, number one, it speaks to your character and it says a lot about him as well. Very interesting historically.
Bob Martinez: But that's how it started and getting back to the ethics, there were two members of the board at that time that had conflicts of interest. They were engineers and they were doing work for cities and counties. And I guess the governor actually had, had enough of it and asked both of them to resign. And so as a result of that, the vacancy occurred and therefore we have formed that vacancy and that took place as a result of a conflict of interest by a former board member.
The Story of Becoming Mayor
Mia McKown: How did you end up being mayor? I mean, mayor of Tampa, was that kind of the next big step that you took after the Water Management District?
Bob Martinez: I had thought about it, to be honest with you. My personal attorney was Clint Brown, and my business attorney was Clint Brown, and he and his wife would come to the restaurant almost every Friday night, and my uncle had been unionized, so we had certain labor rules we had to follow as well. So my wife would come on Fridays to relieve the cashier, so she would have a five day week and then she'd come on Saturdays to do the bookkeeping for Saturday's sales from Friday's sales. So every Friday night, my wife and I would eat with Clint Brown and his wife, and Bill Poe was the Mayor of Tampa at that time. But Bill, unfortunately, had a heart attack and he did recover, but he also announced that he would not seek reelection. So Clint Brown starts with "You need to run for mayor." And this was every Friday night and I said "Look Clint, I got, you know, I got a good sized debt here for the restaurant and the property I've bought. Mary Jane and I went ahead and used our residence as equity. So I can't afford to fail this thing otherwise we would be going to be out in the woods with no place to go." But after about four or five months of this, finally in September or October of '78, I said "alright, I'm going to do a test run to see if, in fact, what kind of publicity the local papers are going to give with the fact that I'm thinking about running." So I called a Tampa Tribune reporter to come over to the restaurant. The restaurant's name was Cafe Sevilla, a Spanish restaurant. And Howard Gorman was a Tribune reporter covering SWFWMD, among other things. So I called Howard and said "Hey Howard, do you want to come over to the restaurant and have a late lunch, maybe one-thirty in the afternoon? If you can come, I'll buy you lunch." So he came over, he thought it was going to be a SWFWMD story, something to do with Water Management board. So we're talking and he had a memo pad there, but not open. Just listening to some of the stuff about Water Management and all that. So gradually begins "You know, I know Bill Poe, a good friend of mine, is a customer here is not going to run for mayor." So all of a sudden he stops and takes out the memo pad out to start taking notes and he says "Are you going to run as a novice, or not going to run?" I'm just saying that I'm kind of looking at it. It's vacant. I know there's already a number of people wanting to be mayor of Tampa, but that will not affect my decision one way or the other in no matter who it is. So I decided I want to run, it doesn't really matter.
Well, the next day, the Tampa Tribune runs it front page headlines, followed by the Tampa Times, which the Tribune owned. So there is this massive story and of course, the supporters of the announced candidates start coming to the restaurant trying to talk me out of running for mayor. And so this went on for a number of months. After that, I cooled it down, they didn't do anything, they didn't go seek support from anybody that will raise money. So it was months later, early '79 of the race, maybe in September '79. And so sometime in the first quarter of '79, I formerly made the announcement that I would seek the Office of Mayor, but it just came with my wife, Clint Brown, his wife's name, the Senate, just the four of us. No consult and not talking with anybody else. And I finally decide I'll do it. So that's sort of how that happened. And then, of course, it turned out to be a successful race. I ran against four others and I won in the first primary. And as you know, other than Jacksonville, all municipal elections are nonpartisan, although they have become very partisan in recent years, where the parties still get involved in nonpartisan races. But back in those days, the parties were not involved like they are today and so that's sort of how it happened, that a foursome having been on a Friday night, week after week finally giving in and saying "Alright, I'll do it." And of course, my wife was there, so she obviously agreed for me to do it. Otherwise I wouldn't have done it. As you probably know, the Mayor of Tampa, a strong mayor system, there's no city manager. So you're the Chief Executive Officer of the city. So it's a totally different thing. So once I did that, I could no longer have anything to do with the restaurant and running it. So that's the story of the mayorship.
Mia McKown: I love that.
The Next Chapter: Becoming Governor and Making the Switch to the Republican Party
Nate Adams: So Governor, take us through, so you were mayor for a period of time, and then at some point you made the decision to to run for governor. So tell us about the next chapter.
Bob Martinez: Yeah, again Clint Brown was involved again. I asked for reelection in 1983. But as part of running for reelection, I said I will not seek a third term and in fact, I'm putting on the ballot a term limit for council members and the mayor for two, eight year terms. And so that got big stories, you know, that I wasn't able to run for a third term just for two terms and that I was going to referendum to put term limits. So one of the first calls that I got in the morning after Clint Brown read the story "Why did you do that?" And I said, "Because, I'm not running a third term. I don't want to be a career mayor." I think, if I can't do what the public wanted me to do, what I wanted to do in two terms, then you just become an employee of the city and I don't want to be an employee of the city. He said "I don't mean that...I mean, running for governor." So I started laughing, I said, what do you mean running for governor. He said, that's what I mean. Bob Graham is termed out. So you'll be into your third of seven and a half years before you have to resign. And so it's logical that this is what you need to do so. So, I said "You know Clint, that's a big, big, big job. And I would have to sell the restaurant." There's no way in the world I could deal. My wife would not want to deal with it, either. Still, sitting as a mayor because I won't resign until I qualify. And then having the restaurant on the side was just not going to work. So you know, one of the first things I'm going to have to do is decide how to sell it if I do this and I doubt they'll want to do that. So another thing have to do is you govern conservatively. Our waste handlers had a wildcat strike like in my fourth month in office because I was bringing side loaders instead of having the workers hanging on the back of the truck, the side loader would get the bins and put them in the garbage truck, and they didn't want to reduce the number of employees. So while I'm at a meeting, they call it a wildcat strike. That prevailed, and I think the strike lasted maybe three days before it got broken. I suspended the union for a year and reorganized the departments that need to be reorganized within that period of time. So that was that background.
So I was still a registered Democrat at that time. But the interesting thing is that Senator Laxalt that was very close to President Reagan came by to visit me before the '82 election and came by and asking "Why don't you change parties to Republican?" And I said Well, I'm holding a nonpartisan office of my party registration, but it's never come up and I have never been active as a Democratic Party, and never been to a meeting with the Democratic Party. I supported Democrats, but that's all there was. But I wasn't active in the party, so I had never given any thought on party affiliation since I'm holding a nonpartisan office. And he says "Well, you know, the president would like to see if you would change parties and you ought to give it some thought." And anyway, he left so he didn't seek reelection. So then I went to Orrin Hatch. He shows up in '82 to see if, in fact, I would consider changing parties and cited some of the conservative things I had done that fit better in the Republican Party than fit in the Democratic Party and things of that sort. And so I ran my reelection in '83. The election date had been changed from a September date to a March date, at the same time I got elected mayor the first time. So now it was a March election. So I got reelected real easily, I had a token opponent, and so it wasn't much of a campaign. So shortly thereafter, President Reagan invites me to the White House and I'd been to the White House before to meet with Jimmy Carter. So I accepted the invitation. It was just a daytime trip. Back in those days, there was a flight out of Tampa to Washington almost every hour I was doing on regulated periods and had all kinds of flights all the time. So I asked if I could take someone with me and they said "yeah, you can take one person." So Al Austin was very prominent in the Broward County Republican Party. So I invited him to go, plus he was my neighbor and my customer on top of that, so we were friends. So we went there to the White House, I think it was in March or April of '83. I think it was April of '83. So I entered the Oval Office, the president got up to greet us, and people I grew up with, including my wife, still call me Bobby. Once a Bobby, always a Bobby, you can't get rid of it. And so as I walked up, he says "Hi Bobby, I'm Ronny." And so I said "Mr. President, you know, I'm delighted to be here, delighted to meet you in person and I've been watching your term in office and you've done a magnificent job," things of that nature. So we chatted a little bit and he says "You know, we are much alike." So I'm telling myself, where is this going? So he says, "I was once the head of a union and so were you. I once had to deal with strike, so did you. I was once a Democrat, so were you. So we sort of have a similar path, and maybe you ought to take one more step like I did and become a Republican." And so this is a major decision. And major decisions I don't ever make without my wife, which is the truth even to this day and so it's something that would have to be talked over for a while to see if, in fact, that's something that I want to do. I told Al Austin, I'm sure the media is going to be out there and they're going to be asking why I was here and who paid my way here. And I bought my own ticket. I did not have the city buy my ticket because I knew this had nothing to do with the city of Tampa just had that feeling that it was not about Tampa, it was about me. So sure enough, when I came out to the White House lawn, there is a gaggle of reporters: "Why are you here? What did you talk about? Are you changing parties?" I'm sure they had leaked, you know, why I might be there. And of course, I dodged it all. I wouldn't answer straightforward what they wanted. They wanted me to say that I was going to change parties and I wouldn't do it. They wanted me to tell them what we talked about it and I wouldn't do it. And so we brought it to an end. The White House staff brought it to an end, so we leave and I told Al "They will be at the airport as well." And of course, in those days you go right to the door of the airplane without any problems. And sure enough, there was a smaller group, but there were still enough of them before we boarded and so go through that again before we get into the plane. And we got back to Tampa, there they are, the Tampa media and there was a lot back in those days, four or five local papers and all the TV stations, so I had to go through it again. And so that's sort of how the whole process of switching party registration from Democrat to Republican took place.
I don't want to be a career mayor. I think, if I can't do what the public wanted me to do and what I wanted to do in two terms, then you just become an employee of the city and I don't want to be an employee of the city.
Mia McKown: What I love about that story, Governor Martinez, is they could ask you all they wanted. But the reason that you had a marriage that's lasted longer than your political career is that you knew you needed to talk to Mrs. Martinez first. You know, she was a big part of all those decisions. Y'all were a team in doing all of this.
Bob Martinez: Now that started in home room at Thomas Jefferson High School, I sat behind her alphabetically.
Mia McKown: Aww!
Bob Martinez: So time passes, and about June or July, I finally called the White House back and said, I don't need to talk to the president, but I did tell the president I will let him know of my decision about changing party affiliation. And you can tell the president that my wife and I will be headed to the Supervisor of Elections Office this morning to change party registration, and which we did. And of course, someone informed the media we did, but I knew somebody would. And sure enough, we got there there and all the media again about my change of party affiliation and why was I changing my views politically, is that why I'm changing parties and things of that sort. And so that was phase one in terms of getting the position of running for governor in the state of Florida.
Nate Adams: What a great story. So tell us more about your decision then to actually go ahead and run for office and who you ran against. And then I'm going to ask you about the manner in which you ended up structuring that office once you got there.
Bob Martinez: After my voter registration changed, then I started getting all kinds of invitations from the local Republican Party committees to go speak. I generally would not do it unless it was within 100 miles of Tampa because I didn't want to be seen that early going all over the state, being away from the office, because it was a sole mayor system so you're running the office so I had a good Chief of Staff and good staff. You didn't want to be seen going all the time somewhere, so if it was more than Orlando over West or further than Fort Myers in the South. I wasn't going to accept that. Not at this stage of the game. In March of '85, I formally announced that I would run for governor of the State of Florida and opened my campaign account on March 1st. I had not opened a campaign account, and had not raised any money. But I had a list of names that I was going to call immediately because I wanted to show a lot of money in a short period of time because you never disclose which you raise in early April. So it was a gamble. The gamble was that if you didn't do it, the story would be you that didn't raise a lot of money. If you are able to do what we were plotting to do which was to raise a lot of money in 30 days that it would be a big story. I forgot the exact amount, but in 30 days we raised about half a million dollars. Which was much more than any other Republican candidates had raised at that stage. And so I got a lot of good coverage about the fact that I was able to raise money that quickly for the governor's race. So then, you know, the march started now Mac Stipanovich being the campaign manager, I never hired staff for any of my campaigns. Mayor or governor, and it was all voluntary staff, the only thing I ever hired were pollsters and media people, but no consultants. We were on our own all the time.
Mia McKown: Other than Mrs. Martinez, she was your number one consultant. I bet.
Bob Martinez: For almost eight years as mayor. I've always been sort of a risk taker, like buying a restaurant and putting my house up as collateral, and this was bigger stakes, obviously, a lot of publicity involved. She at that time was a head media specialist at King High School. That was her career so that she was still doing that, so wasn't traveling very much unless it was a night event and wasn't too far from where we lived. That's about the only time she was traveling in the early stage of the campaign. When I say risk taking, I'll give you a good example of what it means from back in my mayor days. It was two weeks before the mayor's election, I think it was September 4th of '79, and we had a down and dirty poll done by some local pollster, that showed that I had a huge lead over all my opponents to win the first primary. I had maybe $40/50,000 left in the bank account. So the question was, do we spend it all to seal victory or do we hold back for a runoff? And I bet we must have talked about that for about three or four hours among the voluntary leadership, that was including Mac, Clint Brown and a few other people. So finally, I got tired of listening to them and I said we are going to spend every dollar. And I know this poll can't be all that accurate to have that kind of a lead, but with the kind of lead they're talking about, we got to be ahead. Or this would really be a crappy poll. So I did spend every single dollar I had in the account buying TV time and my opponents couldn't do that. They didn't have that kind of money. And I won the first primary, so that was kind of risk-taking, you know, to raise some money in three weeks for a runoff and not having anything at the bank. Well, running for governor is sort of the same thing, it's risk-taking. You have to take, you know, a lot of risk like you do in most things in life, like we ought to be here working for Holland & Knight, you know, we take risks all the time. But it's one that the victory is joyful and not winning is painful. And it's a public event, public spectacle if you want to say that is to put it in back fashion.
The staff that I had beyond Mac and his wife who were there all the time, I used interns from the University of South Florida and interns from the University of Tampa. And they were the worker bees. And they were great. One was Jim McGill, he was an intern I think from USF. Another really important volunteer for me was Brian Ballard, who was a third year law student and he became my travel aide and of course was with me for months, almost every day of the week. He and Mac Stipanovich and Gordon Gillette and Jim McGill all went to work for me after I got elected. They were great volunteers. Can't thank 'em enough! I raised the first million dollars one person at a time, no fundraisers. Just going to somebody's office that had arranged an appointment with making my pitch. You could write a check for 3000 corporately or individually. So my first million for the primary, it was all one on one. No fundraiser help. So it wasn't until well after I qualified in '86 that we started having fundraisers, not just the one on ones. So it's hard work. Sometimes we have five or six of these one on ones scattered in one location of the state, and you had a major sell because they didn't know who you were and I didn't know who they were, I knew of them, but some of them I had never met. So it was one on one salesmanship in those early stages. Now what did help me a great, great deal is that I had gotten active with the Florida League of Cities and the time I ran for governor, I was a President of Florida League of Cities. So I was getting invited to speak all over the state and I usually accept these speeches in the major metropolitan areas of the state. And every time I went and spoke, you ended up walking away with a whole bunch of business cards. What you took back to the campaign office and began organizing, how do we reach out to them in a campaign mode instead of a mayor mode? So it was pretty well organized, and mind you, there are no computers back in those days to speak of, no cell phones to speak of. This was paper driven, telephone driven, just hard work to get it done because you don't have the niceties that you have today.
I've always been sort of a risk taker, like buying a restaurant and putting my house up as collateral, and this was bigger stakes, obviously, a lot of publicity involved.
Mia McKown: If I remember correctly, you were running against, and I'm dating myself and big time, wasn't it Steve Pajcic? It was. Am I pronouncing that right? Was he on that? Was he the Democrat nominee? I can't remember.
Bob Martinez: Primary runner was Steve Pajcic out of Jacksonville.
Mia McKown: I'm pretty sure he had been in the House of Reps., but what I thought was interesting that you talked about was your connection with the League of Cities. It's almost like your tentacles and relationships across the state, even though he had been quote "in Tallahassee," you almost had better coverage across the state because of those relationships with the League of Cities. And it's very interesting how all that works.
Bob Martinez: Beginning I was a regional leader. I'll tell you what, the Mayor of Tampa gets an incredible amount of publicity, and we had four broadcast stations and we had three, well, we have four major dailies. So anywhere within 100 miles or, let's say 80 miles of Tampa, I was well known because I was on TV constantly.
Mia McKown: And the Super Bowl was there in '84, if I remember correctly. So you had national attention.
Bob Martinez: Yeah, so I had that going for me while Tom Gallagher and Louis Frey did not have that going for them because they didn't hold that kind of office that the media was always after you to talk about.
Mia McKown: Big 13, remember Big 13, Channel Big 13?
Bob Martinez: Yeah, we had 13, 10 and 8. And so I had that advantage at the very beginning. So any time they polled, I would always poll higher than they did because they just didn't get the media coverage that I was able to get as the Mayor of the City of Tampa. And so that was a great advantage to me and a disadvantage to them.
Mia McKown: We can kind of cut the suspense. We know you got elected, you won, you beat, you beat Steve Pajcic and then you were preceded by one of my favorite people in the whole entire world. He has now passed away, Wayne Mixson, who I like to say was the best governor we had for three days because Senator Graham, who had been governor, obviously won the U.S. Senate and went to D.C. So you didn't have a Tallahassee background, so to speak, so as Nate mentioned, what did you do to set up? How did how did you set up the Executive Office?
Bob Martinez: There was no pool of Republican staffers.
Mia McKown: Oh, that's right, you were like the first Republican governor and how long?
Bob Martinez: Well, I think Claude Kirk was there until, what? 1970, I think. And I'm not sure he staffed up a lot with Republican-philosophy-type staffers. After election, I took three or four days and went down to Boca Grande, and with key people from the campaign and a few people who were in state government that I have known for a while and I thought there may be more of my persuasion and laid out the plan of what we were going to do in the next 60 days before being sworn in as governor and then who will be who we will seek out of the business committee to assist us in the transition process. Setting up the inaugural committee, who would head up the inaugural committee and who should be members of the inaugural committee. So when all of that was done, we decided some names to pursue beyond those that we already had, that we decided to use as governors and conference room on the ground floor as my work where I would interview people and work from. So I would get there early in the morning on a Monday and then leave Friday afternoon for Tampa, for the process of moving, and helping my wife as well with moving to Tallahassee. So I did all the interviews basically there at the governor's inn. And at that time, you may recall that the court ruled that the law passed the Legislature the members of the judicial branch had to retire at age 72 and had created two vacancies in the Supreme Court. Their terms, the existing, the two that had to vacate their office. Their terms expire like a day after the governor was sworn in. And so during that process, I was interviewing a short list that had been provided to the governor's office for the two positions. And then, of course, you have the five secretaries from the various agencies, and you want to find as many people that you could that would philosophically attune more to you than to say, to the Democratic Party or Democrat members of Legislature. And you have to remember at that time about two thirds of the House were Democrat, I think, with just over two thirds and the Senate wasn't quite that much. But that happened to be a misnomer in the sense that four, it was four Democrats bolted the Democratic Party to my election. Upon the Legislature convening, I'm skipping a little bit here, the legislature convening for the first time Dempsey's group and the Republicans ousted the incoming president and selected Crawford, I believe.
Mia McKown: Bob Crawford. Yeah, he was a Democrat, but he was put in place by the Republicans. And I think Fred Dudley was very involved in that process. He was in the Senate, too, and he was very involved in that process.
Bob Martinez: Right, yes, that's further down. So I had at any rate, you know, staffing was the main thing and then chief vacancies on boards that had to be addressed. And then you had a whole inaugural thing that you had to get approval: do like this, you like that, you want this, you want that, well my wife did a lot of that more than I did. I think she would call on me if she thought she wasn't making headway with whomever she was dealing with. And so it was a real busy time. And of course, my wife had resigned as a head Media Specialist at King High School. So that's sort of what happened in the almost 60 days that you have to get ready for swearing in. It wasn't my first time because the thing happened as Mayor of Tampa, same thing. There, I only had three weeks and again, I had a bunch of agency heads you had to deal with. Who did you want there? Who did you want to replace? So I wasn't a novice in doing that because I'd gone for a smaller government, but the same process. So I carried that experience with me and doing the interviewing and making a decision of who I wanted to change and why.
Nate Adams: So, Governor, you install all these new folks. I'm sure you have an executive staff, you have a chief of staff. I'm guessing you probably had some deputy chiefs of staff. How did you decide and tell us a little bit about the executive staffing? And then if there was then an Office of Policy and Budget, tell us how that interacted with your day to day policy work.
Bob Martinez: I started with two Chiefs of Staff and then dropped down to one with an Assistant Chief of Staff. The OPB was already there. I'm not always accustomed to using the budget people a lot because again, as a Mayor of Tampa, we had a Director of Finance and I've long found out that it's the Office of Budget Director of Finance, whoever you want is the enforcer of your program. They know where all the dollars are, they know how they're being spent, they know when it's being spent and they know when staffers are trying to divert it to some other activity other than the one that you want. So that's why the OPB is also your cop. Watching that, what you want to be implemented is positive, gets done and not put aside by the career people who are there forever. So you've got to have a cop. And that's the function of my idea of OPB. First to develop the budget that you want. You work with your agency heads. You provide instructions for the direction you want to take an agency. You review those problems are already there. Maybe they're not working. Why are we doing it? Why should we continue to do it? Should we do it at the same level. If you want to go in a different direction, here's why I want to go in a different direction. And what are we going to need to go in that direction? What kind of people do we need for that project? How much money do we need for that project? How long is it going to take to get it done? And these are things that have to be in force. You have to have somebody watching it. Otherwise, it would just linger because people get used to the old and the new sometimes is not something they're accustomed to. So it's very important if you don't have a good office of finance or whatever you want to call it, you're in trouble in the executive branch of government.
So it's very important if you don't have a good office of finance or whatever you want to call it, you're in trouble in the executive branch of government.
Nate Adams: I know today a lot of people only think about the role that lobbyists play in government. They think about lobbying the Legislature. Sometimes they don't think about lobbying the executive. And yet it's the folks in office of policy and budget that oftentimes are pretty instrumental in putting forward policies that actually get to the Legislature. So, you know, if you were to talk to folks today about, you know, anything that you perceive, you know, the difference between the way it was when you were in office, what's true today, if there's a company that's interested in expressing themselves about a policy initiative or as a policy initiative that they would like the governor's office to to get behind. How do they go about doing that?
Bob Martinez: I think there's two stages. And you know what you want early on and it's involving money. Then what you want to do is get in as early as you can when it begins to develop the budget and then if you can get into the governor's office, not necessarily the governor, but go to the governor's office to express your views as to why and what it would take. And you're fortunate enough that the governor and OPB puts it into the budget, because you convince them that your idea is pretty good or some existing budget item that exists that deserves more money because they're doing a great job. If you can do it while the planning is taking place, while the budget's being for done, you are 100 percent ahead of the game because now it's part of the budget submission, you know, by the governor. Then it obviously moves to the legislative side to see if it's saved there or if it's amended or gets kicked out whatever. Then the second part is later in the session, if you don't like something, you may want to seek the help of the executive branch to try to stop something, or if it's something that you are pursuing is in there, but not in a fashion you like or the amount of money that you like. Can you get the executive branch of government to intervene to either change the language or add money? And that happens. It happened while I was there. I rarely got the call myself, personally. It was generally being the General Counsel, Chief of Staff, the Head of OPB, the Head of the Legislative Team, somewhere in the governor's first floor office. Sometimes you leave the governor's office or you had accepted a speech in one of the hotels or the governor's club or whatever. And as you're walking or somebody grabbing you, you know, how are you doing, blah blah blah. But before you get to where you're going, it's a mile away if you can just watch out or whatever it is that they're interested in. You'll get that. Or, you know, I would travel and give speeches around the state and you find people in an area that either had a lobbyist or a citizen type lobbyist and you get grabbed and you're told to always have a staff person to take notes or whatever it is. You know, someone was asking for someone or something they wanted to stop whatever it was so that you had record of what it was, it told you because otherwise you're not going to remember with all the things that people are always telling you. But yeah, the staff is lobbying the law. There's no doubt about it, and I think that's probably still true today. So while then I think, you know, that's that's the process. That's what I did for a living for nine years myself when I represented the teachers. So how can I be against the right wing? Or in fact, I did it, but I think it's open. I think it's a different perspective and advice sometimes that you get from government staff or for those of us who've been elected to have a viewpoint. So I don't see it as detrimental as long as you're open about it in terms of your listening, not suddenly accepting what they're saying, but you're listening and you pick up some ideas from time to time, or they do come up with some tips or some some nugget of information that you haven't thought about. And so in a free society, the exchange of information is a must. I never thought that it was bad to receive information from anyone. Whether we're paid or unpaid or just a citizen or an interest group, whatever it is. You know, that's what democracy is all about.
I never thought that it was bad to receive information from anyone. Whether we're paid or unpaid or just a citizen or an interest group, whatever it is. You know, that's what democracy is all about.
Florida Government Advocacy Team Involvement/Efforts in the Executive Office of the Government
Nate Adams: So, governor, I know that now you're part of what we call here at Holland & Knight the Florida Government Advocacy Team. Is that team doing that kind of work today in the Executive Office of the Governor?
Bob Martinez: Yeah, I think when the need comes, you know, I of course, I haven't had to go in on an issue for any of our staff members. But I've been in on some hot ones along with the Attorney General's Office as well, you know, in the past. I think I'm starting my 14th year at Holland & Knight and before I was with Carlton Fields, I think in all those years, I might have gone directly to the governor, maybe eight times. All the governors not just one. The rest of the time, it was just the staff, chief of staff, director of OPB or an agency head or something like that. I tried not to get directly to the governor if I can do it elsewhere because I know how busy that office is. And, you know, I don't need any brownie points or anything like that because I did that. What you want is the issue to get resolved one way or another. And, you know, his staff has his ear. So if you talk to the right staff person, that person is going to talk to the governor. And so I think that's the key. Can you access someone who is close to the governor's office who gave the governor all the time? Can you reach that individual? Can you explain what it is that you're interested in? And that's the best you can do. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't go your way. That's also the way it is.
Nate Adams: There's just one more aspect of state government that, of course, that the governor is always central to, and that's the cabinet. If, you know, sometimes there are issues that are not directly within the ambit of the governor's executive agency, but they might be within the cabinet, you've already made reference to the attorney general. Tell us just a little bit about that for a second.
Bob Martinez: Well, that has changed dramatically. There was six of them when I was governor. You had the Commissioner of Education that doesn't exist any longer and you have the Secretary of State, which is now under the governor and you have the Department of Management Services, which answer the governor cabinet, which now answers to the governor. You had the Department of Natural Resources that used to answer to the governor cabinet and all around, it was all work done by the environmental protection agency. And then you still had the fire department, law enforcement, highway patrol that still answer the governor cabinet. And of course, you had the Parole and Probation Board, which is also an executive board chaired by the governor. So we had a very diffused kind of executive government the years that I was governor and that went and changed, the constitution was amended sometime in the late 90s that was changed dramatically. Adding the CFO and leaving the Commissioner of Agriculture and the Attorney General. So it was more of a battle than by virtue of so many agencies and strengths of the government and the seat of the governor. And so I think it's been cleaned up to the benefit of the governor's office of the Executive Branch of the governor's office in terms of dealing with every day business of the governor. So I think that was a major improvement. But back then, a lot of this stuff, although the government is the one that dealt with the agency heads, they didn't answer the government, they answer the governor cabinet. So basically, they had a boss. You know, there were seven of us and you could always say, well, you know, I have to go check with the other cabinet members, whatever it is. So it wasn't much of a management system. I mean, they were good people, I'm not criticizing anybody as an agency head at that time. But quite frankly, when you have seven bosses, you have no bosses. And so I think that's been cleaned up quite a bit. I think to the benefit of the public, but it was much more difficult to deal with issues back then because of shared executive duty. Many agencies no longer exist.
Mia McKown: What also strikes me as such a difference too from today versus when you ran is just the money aspect of it, right? I mean, the idea that you personally were going and meeting with people and, you know, individually and raising that money without professional fundraisers and all, you know, I mean, you're a part of that on the other side now. It's just so incredible how much money now is involved in campaigns and things of that nature going forward.
Bob Martinez: I never had a Political Action Committee. I just had hard money, never formed one. The only time I raised and soft money was for the party, and they spent however much, it was not my account, it was for the party and I never had a PAC. I think in both campaigns I raised somewhere near $11 million, which by today's numbers is nothing and I couldn't spend it all. I would try to buy more TV time and they were holding it for others. And then as each day got closer to Election Day, they would free the time and I would leave money to deposit and all of these stations to buy up the time as others didn't buy it. And at the end of the campaign, I had leftover money. Not today. I mean, today, $10 million is not much of anything to run for statewide office. In fact, pretty soon, [00:45:09]it's not going to be enough to run for mayor of Tampa. Already hit $2 million just to run for the city of Tampa mayorship. And so it just changed dramatically, no doubt about that. But as I said, I never I never had a PAC, never uses a PAC and never raised money for a PAC. Even to this day I've never raised money for a PAC.
But as I said, I never had a PAC, never used a PAC and never raised money for a PAC. Even to this day I've never raised money for a PAC.
Nate Adams: But what a fascinating political journey you've had, and we sure are privileged to have you at Holland & Knight as part of our Florida Government Advocacy Team. Governor Martinez, we really thank you for the chance to sit down and listen to you for a little bit and to hear about the Executive Office of the Governor, and the opportunities that may exist for our companies, for individuals to help influence the way policy is developed in the state capital. So thanks to Governor Martinez for this informative and interesting session. And thank you, Mia, for joining me. And most of all, thanks to you, all of you who are listening for joining us today. Please plan to join us for our next Florida Capital Conversations podcast. Have a great day!