Log in Subscribe

SOE Mike Bennett to Retire Effective March 1


BRADENTON — Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett has announced that he will retire effective March 1. First elected as SOE in 2012, Bennett had previously represented Manatee County in the Florida Senate.

"I have spent a fabulous twenty-two years in the service of the people of the state of Florida," Bennett wrote in a statement released Tuesday. "These years have been the highlight of my life, and it is with some regret that I have decided to retire effective March 1, 2024. Life is an ever-changing tapestry, and I would like to spend the rest of my time with my family, friends and on my various hobbies and charities. I have every expectation that Manatee County Elections office is in the tremendously capable hands of the very experienced staff I leave behind and look to the Governor’s office to appoint an exceptional person to finish my term of office. Thank you for allowing me the honor to serve you in public office. I look forward to the future!"

Bennett inherited big shoes to fill, winning the office following the retirement of Bob Sweat, one of the most respected SOEs in Florida history. Many voters worried that Bennett, one of the most powerful Republicans in the state at the time, was too partisan for the position, but he quickly proved himself more than adept at running fair and secure elections while working to keep up with technological innovations that would encourage voter turnout. He was easily reelected in 2016 and 2020.

In his resignation letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, Bennett urged the governor to consider his long-time chief of staff when appointing a successor to serve the remainder of his four-year term, which ends this year.

"As I am now submitting my resignation effective March 1, 2024, I would ask that you strongly consider appointing my Chief of Staff, Scott Farrington, to finish out my term," wrote Bennett. "I cannot believe there is a better, more accomplished, or more knowledgeable person than Scott to fill this position.

"Scott has over twenty years of election experience and has been the key to the efficiency of this office and is well-known in the election community for his leadership and knowledge.

"So, I am asking that you look to Scott first as you seek the right candidate for the position to ensure that the upcoming elections proceed with as few conflicts as possible."

Mr. Bennett joined us for an episode of The Bradenton Times Podcast in June of 2022. Click here to listen to the episode.


5 comments on this item

Only paid subscribers can comment
Please log in to comment by clicking here.

  • Cat L

    Where he went wrong with the Gov is to ask for "as few conflicts as possible." Conflict is good marketing fodder, and as the Gov has demonstrated a willingness to overuse those tactics (regardless of who it harms.) Bennett may not have made his case... A Supervisor of elections is a key position to those who manipulate the media coverage. And a lot of ground has been laid on the narrative of election fraud. I'm dubious DeSantis will appoint anyone who isn't willing to comply with their marketing strategies.

    Wednesday, January 24 Report this

  • WTF

    Sounds like the “good old boy” politics are still being greased. Hand picking his successor when he could have easily bowed out prior to his last election and open it up to a County wide fair election. Such a disservice to the voters of Manatee County who must live with an appointed, not elected official for almost the full remaining term.

    Wednesday, January 24 Report this

  • rjckeuka4

    My perception based on 9 years living in the County is that Mike Bennett has done an exceptional job in the Supervisor of Elections role...no controversy, no voting issues, mail-ins handled appropriately, polling stations well staffed, poll workers well trained, etc., etc. It's unfortunate he's leaving before the '24 election cycle is completed, but one has to respect his recommendation for a successor. Who knows what the Gov will do!!??

    Wednesday, January 24 Report this

  • Tony2Chins

    The timing of this smells a little off to me. He could have easily announced he will not run again and serve out the rest of his term, which includes overseeing the November elections. Allowing the Gov to appoint one of his lackeys to this vital position at this critical time is just too convenient. Mr. Bennet is a trustworthy civil servant and has served with integrity. Lord knows what kind of political hack Ron will put in their to do the his bidding.

    Wednesday, January 24 Report this

  • Debann

    As if I would hold any faith or trust on DeSantis...look what he did when he appointed Turner for district 5...Another developer friendly guy..TOO BAD Bennett didn't wait till after the election as I TRUST NO ONE ESPECIALLY IN AN election year.....Maybe DeSantis should collect on Baughs ethics fine...

    Wednesday, January 24 Report this