Published: Jun 24, 2011 2:56 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 24, 2011 2:56 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned as a political outsider last year, named Tallahassee insider Steve MacNamara as his new chief of staff Friday.

MacNamara, who is on an extended leave from a faculty position at Florida State University, most recently was chief of staff and general counsel for Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

"His experience and political skill will be an asset to all Floridians as we continue to position Florida as an economic leader," Scott said in a statement.

MacNamara replaces Mike Prendergast, a retired Army colonel and unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate from Tampa. Prendergast came into the job with no experience in state government. He was one of several top appointees Scott brought in from outside state government or outside Florida.

Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Wednesday appointed Prendergast to head the state Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Prendergast is one of two top aides leaving the governor's office as Scott's administration nears the six-month mark and with the Republican governor's popularity in a tailspin. A Quinnipiac University poll last month showed voters disapproved of Scott's job performance by a 57 percent to 29 percent margin.

Chief adviser Mary Anne Carter this week also resigned, saying she intended to stay only six months when she took the job.

MacNamara also was chief of staff for the Florida House under then-Speaker John Thrasher, now a Republican state senator from St. Augustine, and he headed the state's business regulation agency under Gov. Bob Martinez.

He's held several positions at Florida State and has tenure as an associate professor of communications specializing in mass media law and political communications and strategy.

MacNamara will get $189,000 annually in his new job. That's more than Prendergast's $150,000 salary or the $170,000 MacNamara was paid by the Senate.

Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, immediately appointed Craig Meyer as his new chief of staff. Meyer will do double duty because he'll also keep his old job as the Senate's budget director.

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