Weeks before Gov. Rick Scott’s bid for re-election is decided, his former lieutenant governor has released a book that explains why he shouldn’t prevail. The 174-page, “When You Get There,” is Jennifer Carroll’s autobiography and the two years of her life as the first black woman to serve as the state’s second-in command is a part of her story.
Carroll, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, signed copies of her book at New Birth Faith Cathedral in Miami on Tuesday. Speaking to the audience of about 100 bible study attendees, Carroll made clear her disdain for Scott, implying that he thought he was God because of the way that he treated her.
“I stood here during the campaign in 2010 to ask you for your vote,” she said. “I also took a lot of heat for supporting the positions in our campaign, but I was willing to come into a territory where you probably will never see another Republican coming to ask you for your vote. But this one I did because I value you as a person.”
Carroll wrote in her book that she worked with black political consultant Clarence McKee in the 2010 campaign, to devise a plan to reach out to black voters with local newspapers, radio and phone calls and despite the Scott campaign’s objections, she attended a forum in Miami hosted by Curry, who also hosts a popular radio show and is a former president of the Miami-Dade branch of the N.A.A.C.P.
“The campaign didn’t want it, but I did it anyway,” writes Carroll, who now works as a political consultant for WJXT, Channel 4 in Jacksonville.
In thanking Bishop Victor Curry for inviting her to speak and to sign books, Carroll saluted Curry for being “smart enough to know not to be threatened by powerful women,” she said regarding the women on Curry’s staff.
“Some men, think they’re God, they act like they’re God, they control your life, they manipulate you, they do all these things, they’re in control and have the power over you. That happened to me when I was in office,” said Carroll “For a woman in politics, in a non-traditional role, you will get jabs, you will get stabbed,”
She said that on March 12, 2013, she was “ambushed” by Scott’s chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth and general counsel Pete Antonacci, who forced her to resign because of her past public relations work for a veterans’ group linked in an internet cafe fraud investigation. Carroll was not accused of wrongdoing.
“God has a way of shaking us up sometimes, to either let us know we’re on the wrong path and we need to just step off that path or to get some fools out of our way,” said Carroll, who explained that she remained silent about being bullied and manipulated by Scott’s staff out of loyalty to him and the Republican party.
“My personal experience with sticking it out and not listening to my God at the time when I should have was sticking it out with Gov. Scott as his lieutenant governor, for the wrong reasons,” she said.
The Republican Party should have embraced her historical position as the first black lieutenant governor and leveraged it to recruit blacks to the party, Carroll explained. Instead, she said, she was “asked to leave office for something I had nothing to do with.”
Carroll said the “betrayal” devastated her and ruined her reputation.
“I was crushed. I was depressed. I didn’t want to see the light of day. I really felt that this was the end for me,” said Carroll, who credits God, her family and “prayer warriors,” with helping her to recover.
Scott’s campaign declined to address Carroll’s specific allegations. A statement issued by spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said Carroll “made the right decision for her family by resigning.”
Carroll’s book was published by Advantage, a South Carolina company on August 27, her 55th birthday, and is available at Amazon.
Michelle Hollinger can be reached at email@example.com