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Central Florida's Lee Constantine Could Run For CFO

lee constantine, joe durso, jeff atwater, mike shirley, jonathan swift, seminole county post, seminole county news, news seminole county, florida cfo, florida chief financial officer, jacob engels,

With Jeff Atwater finishing his final term as the state's CFO, Republicans need a strong contender to build upon his legacy.


By Jacob Engels


As the sun sets on Jeff Atwater's reign as Florida's most visible and successful Chief Financial Officer, the Seminole County Post has learned that Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine may be a leading contender to replace him. Mr. Constantine, who has held varying public offices during his 36-year career in public service, spent time as a State Representative and State Senator, representing locales in both Seminole and Orange County.


During his time in the state legislator, Constantine was a fiscal hawk and crafted important legislation tackling high interest rates from predatory fly-by-night pay-day lenders. This legislation was championed by watchdog groups and elements on both ends of the political spectrum. He also protected consumers with a piece of legislation that stopped gift card providers from charging monthly fees, which was praised by newspaper editorial boards and consumer groups across the state.


Before that, he served as Mayor and Commissioner in the City of Altamonte Springs, also located in the all important I-4 corridor. While many have been speculating that Constantine should fight to earn the GOP nomination for Florida's 7th congressional district, that is not his best option.


Running to become Florida's Chief Financial Officer is a credible path for the legislator-turned-commissioner. Joe Durso, the current Mayor of Longwood, once served as Constantine's aide in the state legislator and thinks his former boss certainly has the background to be CFO.


"Lee has always fought to protect Florida consumers. His healthy respect for the free market and extensive legislative experience at the state and local level have always made him a formidable ally for taxpayers".


Constantine's deep connections in the capitol and strong voting base in Central Florida would serve him well in a low-key statewide race like CFO. He can fundraise a heck of a lot of money and would be a familiar face to Republican voters, one they have had on the ballot in Central Florida for almost 40 years.


Constantine is also a successful businessman, often advising high level corporations and governmental agencies as a business consultant.. Aside from protecting consumers by setting caps on pay-day loan providers with his hallmark legislation in 2001, Constantine has also successfully overseen and raised $6million + through his Charity Challenge, Inc over the past twenty plus years.


He knows how to balance a budget locally, on the state level, in the non-profit world, and as a small business. All of this experience makes him a serious contender for the CFO gig according to GOP consultant Mike Shirley.


"He knows the budget and how to identify fraud and waste. Charity Challenge is respected by many in Central Florida and beyond. People want him to run for congress, but the impact he could have as CFO would be immediate and measurable for Floridians. Getting involved in the game of DC politics means delayed impact and a watered down result, two things Lee has never settled for."


Shirley, who served as a top staffer to Governor Rick Scott and Texas Governor Rick Perry, most recently guided upstart Joel Greenberg to a stunning victory against 28-year incumbent Seminole County Tax Collector Ray Valdes.


Under Atwater, the state has modernized it's digital offerings and firmly cracked down on insurance schemes. Constantine's experience fighting predatory pay-day would be a tremendous asset to have in our next CFO, who is expected to follow Atwater's blueprint for success.


Newly elected Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg has been busy building relationships with members of local government and told us he has leaned on Constantine several times for advice already.


"His institutional knowledge is vast and insightful. From budgets to figuring out how to successfully coordinate with multiple governmental agencies, Commissioner Constantine's advice has been spot-on."


But what would a potential GOP primary for CFO could look like? Tallahassee based GOP consultant Jonathan Swift thinks Constantine would be the lead contender for sure.


"Lee Constantine is an extremely qualified and experienced public servant. While Congress looks inticing for Constantine and 8 - 10 others of Central Florida's political "who's who", he would be the clear favorite coming out of Central Florida and the all important I-4 corridor in the CFO race."


Mr. Constantine told the Seminole County Post that he is flattered by the encouragement.


"Right now my focus is Seminole County. I am honored that people are considering me for CFO. However, residents need to know that Seminole County is my focus right now and I am more than grateful to serve as your Seminole County Commissioner."



Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. His work through these publications has been showcased in hundreds of publications and news outlets in the state of Florida, the United States, and around the globe. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at [email protected]