There’s a new chief of staff in the office of Gov. Rick Scott and there’s speculation the move might be an indication that Scott is drawing closer to announcing he’s a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Scott announced Monday morning that Brad Piepenbrink would immediately assume the role of chief of staff of the Governor’s Office taking over for Jackie Schutz Zeckman who resigned. Scott said Schutz Zeckman resigned Sunday to pursue other opportunities. There’s no word on what those “opportunities” would be.
Scott also tweeted out Monday that he would make a “big announcement” soon.
“Join me the morning of April 9th on Facebook Live, as I make a big announcement,” Scott tweeted, further fueling speculation that an announcement that he would run for the Senate wasn’t too far off.
Schutz Zeckman worked in Scott’s press office and was his communications director until she was named chief of staff in May of last year.
“During her time in the Governor’s Office, she led communications efforts and helped lead my legislative strategy during last year’s special legislative session and this year’s session where we secured many victories for Florida families,” Scott said of Schutz Zeckerman. “She also spent years as traveling press secretary where she has coordinated our communications efforts in every Florida media market, and in other states and nations during our economic development missions. She has been dedicated to implementing my agenda throughout my time as Governor and I know she will continue to do great things for our state.”
Piepenbrink most recently served as deputy chief of staff in the Governor’s Office. He was in charge the Governor’s policy development over the environment, health care, transportation, law enforcement and emergency management. He also served as the director of the Office of External Affairs. Piepenbrink served in this role since the Governor’s reelection in 2014. Prior to this, he served as political director for Governor Scott’s reelection campaign.
“Brad has done an incredible job in the many important positions he has held throughout my administration,” Scott said in a release announcing the staff changes. “He effectively ran our external affairs operation which has consisted of thousands of events across the state and has led the development of significant policy initiatives throughout my time in office.”
Speculation has persisted for months that Scott would enter the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. He told reporters at the end of the legislative session earlier this week that he planned to take a few weeks to think about his options before making an announcement.
Scott is serving his second term as governor and will leave office at the beginning of next year due to term limits.