State Politics

What you need to know: the race for Florida CFO

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater

Chief financial officer Jeff Atwater seems all but assured reelection.

His opponent, Democrat William Rankin, has struggled to raise money, has no name recognition and is getting no help from the state party.

The bigger question seems to be whether Atwater is laying the groundwork for a 2018 run for governor.

The winner of the race will oversee state accounting, auditing, unclaimed property, risk management, workers’ compensation, the investment of state funds, insurance fraud investigations, insurance consumer services, licensing of insurance agents and agencies, funeral homes and cemeteries. The CFO also serves as the state fire marshal and is a member of the Florida Cabinet.

William ‘Will’ Rankin, 54 (Democrat)

Experience: Former director of asset management for Ohio State Treasury; 11 years in the U.S. Army; former Army criminal investigator; publisher of Millionaire Lifestyle magazine.

Education: Bachelor’s in economics, Xavier University.

What is the most important issue the CFO will face? “Restoring the public’s trust in state government by ensuring that the people of Florida come first before insurance companies and big business, and that the people have unfettered access to state programs and services that benefit their lives and their families.”

What should be done to make government more transparent? “Along with identifying and providing budget and contract information for public review, there should be an official summary document of each to accompany the public documents that fully explains in common language the relativeness of the documents and contents, and the budgetary and/or economic impact of each for the public’s discernment.”

How can the CFO’s office do a better job of protecting consumers? “As CFO, I will establish statewide community outreach programs to educate consumers on fraud-related activity, establish an independent Department of Financial Services hotline for financial consumer fraud concerns, facilitate better inter-agency investigative cooperation on consumer fraud issues, and establish a public financial consumer advocacy board.”

Campaign fundraising (cash only): $16,371

Assets: $384,631.

Liabilities: $3,397.

Income: $153,419.

Personal: Divorced; two grown children, Jennifer and Andrew.


Jeff Atwater, 56 (Republican)

Experience: Chief financial officer (2011-present); state Senate president (2008-10); state senator (2002-10); state representative (2000-02); Village of North Palm Beach vice mayor (1993).

Education: Bachelor’s in Finance, University of Florida; MBA, University of Florida.

What is the most important issue the CFO will face? “My primary concern is always making certain every dime we take from Florida’s taxpayers is put to use to its absolute, best purpose. Fiscal discipline when it comes to taxpayers’ hard-earned money ensures we keep taxes low, our economy growing and innovators creating jobs.”

What should be done to make government more transparent? “I went to bat for Florida’s taxpayers and revealed that 72 percent of their state budget is spent on contracts with outside parties. ... Then I went further and placed every one of these contracts online, in a public Web portal known as FACTS.”

How can the CFO’s office do a better job of protecting consumers? Atwater cited some of his pro-consumer policies as CFO, including insurance fraud arrests, shutting down fraud rings and medical clinic scams, pushing for a Homeowners Claims Bill of Rights, and the use of a Department of Financial Services consumer help line.

Campaign fundraising (cash only): $2.9 million

Assets: $1.9 million

Liabilities: $54,103

Income: $198,184

Personal: Wife, Carole; children John, Amanda, Amy and Courtney


Contact Tia Mitchell at