Notorious political operative and agent provocateur Roger Stone plans to meet with state House Speaker Richard Corcoran — a sit-down sure to stoke intrigue about Corcoran’s possible run for governor and speculation about whether Stone will be involved.
Stone, who was in Tallahassee Wednesday to give a paid speech to the Capital Tiger Bay Club, said a “mutual friend” set up a meeting later during his visit to the state Capitol with Florida’s House Speaker. Both said they’d expressed interest in getting together.
“I’ve never met him and I’m curious to meet him,” Stone said. “He’s one of the candidates for governor who I don’t know.”
Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, hasn’t officially declared his candidacy. But he recently began airing political commercials funded by his political committee, WatchDog PAC. A newly released Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy poll showed he is running behind declared candidates Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam and Palm Coast Congressman Ron DeSantis.
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“I’ve let it be known that I’d like to get with him if he has time,” Corcoran said at midday Wednesday.
Stone described the appointment as a get-to-know-you session. He was noncommittal about whether he’d get involved as a strategist in the governor’s race, but said he doesn’t currently have any expectations to be a part of anyone’s campaign.
“I’m not supporting anyone in the governor’s race today, and I don’t expect to play any formal role,” he said. “I think we’re meeting at a bar or something.”
A potential Stone foray into the governor’s race should be viewed both skeptically and seriously.
His decades-long career in politics stems back to the presidency of Richard Nixon, whose face is tattooed on his back. His tactics are the stuff of legend, and the focus of a Netflix documentary called “Get Me Roger Stone.” He recruited Donald Trump to run for president and helped his 2016 campaign before being fired, or resigning, depending on whom you believe.
In 2000, he infamously shut down a manual recount of the presidential vote in Miami-Dade by convincing an angry crowd of protesters that ballots were being removed by an Al Gore sympathizer, thereby preserving George W. Bush’s Electoral College victory.
“I think we did the right thing,” he said Wednesday of the so-called Brooks Brothers riot.
A partnership with Stone would raise Corcoran’s profile and perhaps bring him closer to Trump, whom he once criticized. The speaker faces the potential challenge of running for governor in a Republican primary in which Trump has publicly endorsed an opponent (DeSantis).
Though Stone was firm that he has no expectations of getting involved in the race, he didn’t rule it out. If he does, watch out.
“One man’s dirty trick is another man’s civic participation,” he said. “You got to do everything you can to elect your candidate short of breaking the law.”
Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau reporter Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.