Gov. Jeb Bush knew that his Lieutenant Gov. Frank Brogan was ready to jump ship. As a result of Brogan’s departure, Bush made a decision that sends a message of encouragement to all of Florida’s voters, especially women: He will move into the 21st century by appointing a woman to serve as his second-in-command.
This is a step that should have been taken in Florida years ago. However, Bush made the right decision to appoint Toni Jennings, a woman with 24 years of State Legislature experience. In his State of the State Address on Tuesday, Bush introduced Jennings, officially making her the first woman to serve as Florida’s lieutenant governor.
Jennings’ political career has been one filled with positives and her track record for getting along with both Democrats and Republicans is well known, according to a St. Petersburg Times report. Her ability to smooth over conflict will come in handy as Bush’s budget goes on the chopping block this week, which is supposedly not favored by the Republican-heavy Legislature.
Jennings has an incredible responsibility set before her. While the title of “first woman Lieutenant Governor” already sets her apart, she is now charged with making a difference while in office. The mantle of “first woman” makes it imperative that she make her presence felt and encourage legislation that not only helps women in the state, but also encourages new ways of thinking. Jennings’ time in office will be defined by the changes she is able to effect.
However, Jennings has already made history and broken through a barrier in Florida. Her appointment signals to Floridians and women that it is possible for women to hold positions of power. While other states have a history women politicians, most notably New Jersey, it seems that Florida is finally catching up.