Broward County Democrat Jeremy Ring isn’t an official candidate for Chief Financial Officer in 2018 yet, but he talked the part in one of his first ever appearances in Tampa on Friday morning.
Speaking at the Oxford Exchange as part of the Cafe Con Tampa weekly event, the former Yahoo executive introduced himself to the audience by humble bragging about his private sector background, describing himself as the first salesman for the internet search engine company when he started there as a 24-year-old (he’s 46 now).
But when he self deprecating about his lack of knowledge about politics when he first decided to run for state Senate in 2006,
“I had never been to Tallahassee,” he says. “I barely knew that Jeb Bush was governor of Florida. When I lived in Silicon Valley, Nancy Pelosi was my Congresswoman – I never heard of her (actually, Pelosi represents San Francisco, an hour north of Silicon Valley, which is located in Santa Clara County). All true. I was the least experienced candidate in the history of the state of Florida. ”
The meat of his message is on making Florida an innovative economy, a theme he campaigned on during his first run for office a decade ago. And he’s produced results.
In 2008, he helped create the Florida Growth Fund, which invests state and local pension funds in technology and high-growth businesses with a significant presence in the state, and the Florida Opportunity Fund, a multimillion-dollar program that directs investments to high- performing funds committed to seed and early stage businesses.
Ring says that Florida has one of the most complete innovation “ecosystems” in the country, not that it’s something that many lawmakers know or understand.
“Most elected officials in Tallahassee will inspire you instead of becoming the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, they’ll inspire you to be the next homebuilder or