FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis named a former state senator to be his running mate Thursday, a choice that could lead to Florida's first black lieutenant governor.
Daryl Jones, 51, was the first black candidate to make a serious run for Florida governor, coming in third in the 2002 primary.
"We need a leader with a proven record of standing up for what he believes in and in bringing people together and Daryl Jones is that leader," Davis said. "People are hungry for change."
Jones, a former Air Force fighter pilot, served six of his 12 years in the Legislature with Davis before Davis was elected to Congress in 1996. Jones was considered an intelligent, independent lawmaker and won respect among colleagues in both parties.
Jones is also a lawyer, but said he stopped practicing several years ago.
Jones was in the national spotlight in 1998, when President Clinton nominated him to be the first black Air Force secretary. He was rejected in a bitter Senate confirmation process. Witnesses testified that as a reserve pilot, he almost ran out of fuel once and flew the wrong way another time.
Additional testimony raised questions about his background and character. His former squadron commander said he had to be grounded and given a desk job, an account Jones denied.
Jones said Thursday the Senate decision was "partisan politics" and noted that "the Air Force promoted me since then so they think I'm all right."
In 2002, he said he had no interest in becoming lieutenant governor, calling the position largely ceremonial and quipping that if elected he "would wind up being so good at golf I'd become good enough for the senior tour."
Asked about his previous remark, Jones said Thursday that the difference now is "the timing."
"In this case, Jim Davis is somebody that I have known who has tremendous experience both state and federal," Jones said. "He knows exactly what he's doing."