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New Dem running mate Rod Smith: Florida ‘needs to be changed now’

by George Bennett | August 19th, 2010

Democratic governor candidate Alex Sink formally introduced former state Sen. Rod Smith as her running mate today at a crowded Police Benevolent Association hall in West Palm Beach.

Smith, an attorney, said his oldest son, who’s also an attorney, was busy this morning “explaining to judges why I won’t be there for the next several weeks and months.”

“And years,” added Sink.

Smith pounded hard on the economy and on the fact that Republicans have effectively controlled the legislature since 1996 and the governor’s mansion since 1998 (except for the past four months, when Gov. Charlie Crist shed his GOP affiliation to go independent).

“It’s time Florida changes and it needs to be changed now,” Smith said.

Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post

Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post

“If Florida ever needed this economy managed, if we ever needed to be creating jobs, if we ever needed to be helping families who are feeling the pressure of what’s going on in this economy, it’s now and we’ve got the right ticket and we’ve got the right person at the top of it. Alex Sink will deal with this economy,” Smith said.

“They’ve been in control for 14 years,” Smith said of the GOP. “If you believe we need to change the direction, it’s time to give us a chance to go to Tallahassee and provide a new direction of leadership.”

Asked about announcing her running mate five days before the Aug. 24 primary, Sink said:

“We have a lot of work to do. Obviously next Wednesday we’ll know who the Republican nominee is, and I didn’t want to be distracted by engaging in a lieutenant governor selection process after the primary. We have our team together. I wanted my team to be together so we have incredible momentum going into the general election.”


7 Responses to “New Dem running mate Rod Smith: Florida ‘needs to be changed now’”

  1. ali Says:

    Obama’s sixth vacation of the year:

  2. Pat Says:

    What does Obama hve to do with this story about Alex Sink and Rod Smith? You people waste a lot of time with your anti-Obama rhetoric. George Bush spent months out of the year at his place in Texas. Did you complain about that?

  3. November to remember Says:

    would suggest that Obama and Nancy Pelosi are tightly intertwined and Alex ‘my husband also ran for FL governor Sink in in”Sink” with Obama’s spending philosophies. Scarier yet, is that Sink would go along with the EPA and Cap and Tax legislation which would handcuff job growth in Florida and stifle growth while RAISING taxes.

    Nothing is ‘free’ in this country. WE pay, and if Sink gets elected expect to pony-up your grandkid’s piggybank.

  4. A Little Civic Lesson for Newcomers and modern no history allowed students Says:


    Article published Aug 19, 2010

    Bill Cotterell: It’s a job with little respect and no duties

    Capital Curmudgeon

    Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s campaign for governor has a big rally set up today to introduce her nominee for lieutenant governor, former state Sen. Rodney Dangerfield.

    No, wait — that should be Rod Smith. Dangerfield, sadly, lacks the only thing — a heartbeat — required to be a heartbeat away from the governor’s office.

    Too bad; he’d be a natural for a job that gets no respect. Somebody once opened a restaurant called the Lieutenant Governor’s Club, spoofing that snooty private club the media describe as being “in the shadow of the Capitol” (presumably on days when the sun rises in the south). Despite having Tallahassee’s only photo pantheon of Florida’s almost-achievers, the Lieutenant Governor’s Club didn’t make it.

    This is the only job in government in which, once you win it, your work is done. The Florida Constitution provides no duties for lieutenant governors, so the only reasons for having them are to (a.) meet a legal ballot requirement and (b.) balance the ticket politically.

    A former state attorney in Gainesville, Smith brings law-and-order street cred to Sink’s ticket. He was a hard-working and scandal-free senator who ran a good campaign for governor in 2006.

    Naturally, the Republicans will scour his record for any whiff of a tax or fee increase — just as the Democrats are sure to call the GOP nominee the worst choice since Jeb Bush tapped Tom Feeney.

    Feeney showed that running mates can hurt more than help. All he did was support a House memorial urging Congress to balance the budget.

    Gov. Lawton Chiles’ re-election team twisted that to mean Feeney wanted to abolish Social Security — one sure way to cut federal spending. Democrats phoned old people and said, basically, that Bush’s running mate wanted them dead.

    The best balancing act was the selection of Wayne Mixson, a Marianna House member chosen by then-state Sen. Bob Graham in 1978. A Harvard-educated lawyer and self-admitted Miamian, Graham had lapel buttons, even a campaign song, saying “I’m a Graham cracker.” So he went rural for political ballast.

    Mixson had a little mirror on his desk, which he claimed to put under Graham’s nose every morning. If the mirror fogged, Mixson had a day off.

    This job is so odd, one guy held it when it didn’t exist. Lt. Gov. Milton Mabry was elected in 1885, the same day a new Constitution abolished the office. Mabry served his four years anyway.

    We didn’t get another lieutenant governor until the 1968 constitutional revision, when Gov. Claude Kirk picked Pinellas County state Rep. Ray Osborne for the two years remaining in Kirk’s term. The Tampa Bay area festered with Republicans in those days, and Kirk needed a party insider.

    Unknown state Sen. Reubin Askew of Pensacola beat Kirk in 1970, partly because he put Secretary of State Tom Adams on the ticket. Adams was a statewide figure with connections in 67 courthouses.

    Once elected, second bananas get a nice office on the Capitol’s ground floor, where they do whatever the governor has left over — for $127,398 a year, a car and driver. Playing second fiddle without a bow is a good four- to eight-year gig. They go around the state for Space Florida board meetings, economic-development councils and those never-ending task forces on education, insurance or health care.

    Play your cards right and you can get a sandwich named after you at Andrew’s. And you’re an instant political trivia answer — which lieutenant governor had been a drummer with the Allman Brothers? Which two candidates for governor wound up running against their lieutenant governor choices? Which forgotten also-ran wound up in the U.S. Senate? Which went to prison?

    Many states make the lieutenant governor president of the Senate. In some, the governor and light governor run separately, so there could be a Democrat in one job and Republican in the other.

    Until 2002, Florida used to make would-be governors choose partners at qualifying. Constitution revision changed that, with the idea that two candidates who run against each other in the primary might unite their party by teaming up later.

    That hasn’t happened. Can you imagine Bill McCollum and Rick Scott uniting after Tuesday? Or even speaking to each other?

    Candidates for governor always say they want a full partner, to run as a team and govern in tandem. But the understudy never escapes the governor’s shadow.

    State Universities Chancellor Frank Brogan and former Senate President Toni Jennings, Bush’s back-ups, were probably the most effective in the office — both having made their bones politically before Bush picked them.

    And interestingly, neither ran for governor afterward. Five out of Florida’s nine modern LGs have run statewide, but the only two who became governor weren’t elected. Mixson served three days when Graham resigned to go to the U.S. Senate, and Buddy MacKay, having lost in 1998, served for 23 days when Gov. Lawton Chiles died.

    Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp is now trying a lateral transfer, running for attorney general. If he wins, and Sink becomes governor, Kottkamp will be well-placed to run against her in four years — or eight, if she’s strong in 2014.

    If Scott or McCollum gets in, a Republican attorney general (they say “A.G.” stands for “almost governor”) will probably have to wait eight years. And even then, there’ll be a lieutenant governor in the way.

    But this is Florida. Don’t rule out anything.

  5. Truthman Says:

    Will be a huge win for Democrats in November. Everyone hates republicans. Even republicans hate republicans.

  6. Mr. right Says:

    I, a Republican, am still waiting for an honest answer from Sink.

    How could you, as CFO of the state, lose $250 million of employees pension funds by investing in a questionable New York real estate deal?????

  7. Michael E. Arth Says:

    Mr. Right, that’s only part of the story, and it indicts the far right as much our center right CEO and governor. Sink is especially vulnerable and I’m sure Rick Scott, if he wins, will rake Sink over coals for this, because it involves a ripoff of the public even greater than Columbia/HCA.

    Sink was not only CFO of the state, but treasurer of the $200+ billion State Board of Administration. Sink and the other trustees (Crist & McCollum) ignored 19 audits telling them about risky investments, and they went ahead and made them anyway. The loss was in the BILLIONS, there was a run on the funds. The director of the fund, Coleman Stipanovich had the decency to resign, but the Republican and Democratic trustees apparently swore a pact of silence, because we didn’t hear about it from our media outlets. Only the St. Pete paper covered it properly:

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