ISLAMORADA -- Gov. Rick Scott will speak here next week at the Republican Party of Monroe County's annual Reagan Dinner fundraiser, according to organizers.
The event will be held at the new Florida Keys Conference Center at the Islander Resort on Thursday, March 14. Tickets, which are almost sold out, cost $100.
"We just asked to have him, and this is when it was," party Chairwoman Debbie Goodman said when asked how they landed Scott for the event. She added that big names have hardly been rare at the Reagan dinner. Last year's keynote speaker was businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain. In 2011, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio headlined the event.
The governor's office declined Monday to discuss Scott's schedule for his Islamorada visit. But village officials are holding out hope that he'll make appearances outside the confines of the conference center.
Mayor Ken Philipson said there has even been discussion about Scott showing up at that evening's Village Council meeting immediately before the fundraiser.
Philipson said he's also hoping Scott will do a photo-op with village officials, either at the construction site of Upper Matecumbe Key's WetNet Villas affordable housing project, which received state funding, or in front of sewer line construction on middle Plantation Key. Scott signed off on $50 million in wastewater funding for the Keys last year, $20 million of which went to Islamorada.
The governor's visit comes during the midst of this year's session of the Florida Legislature, in which officials throughout the Keys are pushing hard for the second $50 million installment of the $200 million Mayfield state grant.
The funding was not included in Scott's spending plan released in January. However, it is the Legislature that drafts the state budget, which must be signed by the governor.
One local official said that he believes the visit is a good sign.
"I don't think the governor would be coming down here in two weeks if he has in mind that he is not going to give us the $50 million," Key Largo Wastewater Board Chairman Robby Majeska said at the Feb. 28 Village Council meeting.
The Reagan dinner begins with a meet and greet at 6 p.m. next Thursday. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Goodman she expects Scott to speak between 7 and 7:30 p.m.