Sunday, August 21, 2005


(Thanks to Florida politiX for the heads up)

State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith (D - Alachua) spoke this past week to the St. Petersburg Times editorial board, and some of his remarks were rather interesting considering how early it is in the campaign and that on a couple of questions was unusually blunt.

While he does not mention Democratic rival Congressman Jim Davis (D - Tampa) directly on the stump, he told the Times editorial board that he is better equipped to attract support in strongly conservative North Florida, which has voted overwhemingly Republican in recent elections and that his track record shows he would be a more effective governor.

"I think there's a stark difference in the kind of leadership Rod Smith and Jim Davis will provide," the state senator and former prosecutor told the St. Petersburg Times editorial board. "I think that I've made a much bigger difference wherever I've been...I think Jim will follow the exact pattern that Democratic candidates have always followed in this state."

Smith also showed his hand at how he would challenge potential Republican rivals:

When Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher, Florida's chief financial officer, stresses family values, Smith said he'll debate him about how Republican leaders are valuing families when they cut investment taxes for wealthy Floridians while the state ranks toward the bottom of education funding lists, on children covered by health insurance, graduation rates and teacher pay.

When Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, Florida's attorney general, stresses keeping Floridians safe, Smith, who prosecuted serial killer Danny Rolling, says he'll eagerly debate why community policing dollars are being cut and prosecutors and public defenders are not being funded adequately.

To the editorial board, Smith said he can compete with Gallagher and Crist in parts of the state where Republicans are often stronger.

"I don't think that Gallagher and Crist can translate in North Florida like Jeb Bush did and certainly not like George Bush did. They're not seen as two good ol' boys, and that will make a big difference in a part of the state that's been voting overwhelmingly Republican in recent times - despite their demonstrable economic disadvantage," he said. "When you drive through Baker County and you find the only thing new in front of their trailer and besides their broken down pickup is a big W sign, it's amazing to me, when they've just talked about outsourcing the mental health facility there."

One area that Smith may have lost some support with are strong liberal/progressives after they read that he told the Times that he would support Judge John G. Roberts' confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.

"I haven't seen anything that says . . . he is ethically challenged or that he's intellectually inadequate," the former prosecutor said. "Right now, I would have no reason to disqualify him other than I don't agree with positions he holds, and that doesn't drive me in judicial decisions."


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