With early voting in the Aug. 26 primary under way, News4Jax is welcoming a new political analyst.
Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll brings her resume of local and state experience in public office to our coverage of everything from national races to local ballot initiatives.
The first woman elected as Florida's Lieutenant Governor, Carroll is also the first African-American to win statewide office.
A retired Navy Lieutenant Commander, Carroll served seven years as a legislator. The Fleming Island resident was also executive director of Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs under Gov. Jeb Bush.
She resigned as Lt. Governor in March 2013, under pressure, she said, from Gov. Rick Scott.
Carroll recently answered some hard questions about her past and how she intends to offer unbiased analysis for News4Jax viewers.
“We have to look at the candidate, what they bring to the table, their intelligence, their experience, their knowledge,” Carroll said. “If they have a true passion for helping the people they plan to represent.
Elected to office as a Republican, Carroll said her wins and losses politically shape her perspective. Her record, she said, should assure viewers of her balance.
“I had co-sponsors on my bill who were Democrats, and we worked very well together,” Carroll said. “When Democrats would have issues with my legislation, I would sit down and speak with them and work it out and get a better product brought to the table. ... In today's political arena, we have too much in-fighting.”
Carroll was asked to resign amid controversy surrounding the Internet cafe scandal. But she explained that she was not connected to the scandal itself.
“First of all, I wasn't involved with anything with Internet cafes,” Carroll said. “And as a matter of fact, FDLE did a cursory review. Their final report came back that I had no -- whatsoever -- no criminal activity involvement with the Internet cafes.”
She said she's not certain what the real reason was behind the Governor requesting that she leave office, but she believes the Internet cafe scandal was utilized to force her out.
Carroll has a book coming out soon but said that's not connected to her new role with News4Jax.
She wants to help cut through some of the partisan messages and get to the core of the issues and the candidates, she said.
“We have too much polarization,” Carroll said. “And that does not help our nation, does not help our cities and states ... We have to be able to say, if constituents are our primary concern, then the party affiliation needs to take a back seat.
“What we need is to cut through the clutter. That's what our role will be with analyzing these races. … Let the voters see, these candidates are not being totally truthful. Or, they're being truthful and what they're really saying.”