Senate President Andy Gardiner on Wednesday all but slammed the door on state Surgeon General John Armstrongâ€˜s chances of getting confirmed this session. That would make him the first state agency head inÂ two decades to be rejected by the Senate.
Asked whetherÂ a vote onÂ Armstrongâ€™s confirmation would come to the Senate floor, the Orlando Republican told reporters, â€œAt least not from my standpoint.â€
Gardiner said heâ€™s not inclined to bring it up. Two-thirds of the 40-member Senate could force the issue to the floor, though that bar seems unreachable given Armstrongâ€™s bipartisan negative rating in the chamber.
â€œWeâ€™ve heard from members of the Democratic caucus and others that thereâ€™s a concernâ€ with Armstrongâ€™s leadership at the state Department of Health, GardinerÂ said.
The Senateâ€™s inaction means Armstrong is out of the job. The Senate also did not confirm him lastÂ session, and the rule is â€œtwo strikes youâ€™re outâ€ with agency heads.
The Senate Ethics and Elections committee did not take up Armstrongâ€™s confirmation. The panel postponed the hearing several times.
Naples Republican Garrett Richter, the committeeâ€™s chairman, saidÂ Armstrongâ€™s confirmation was postponed because members still had questions.
Armstrongâ€™s leadership of the agency had been questioned, including over the stateâ€™s growing rate of HIV/AIDS and the delays inÂ implementing of the stateâ€™s medical marijuana law.
Gardiner said he had no concerns about Armstrong, a former trauma surgeon and retired Army Medical Corps colonel, and said he would have voted to confirm him.
â€œBut clearly the votes were not there in Ethics and Elections to move his confirmation forward,â€ he said.