Rod Smith to announce Monday he wants to be new top Demby Dara Kam | November 12th, 2010
Former state Sen. Rod Smith will announce Monday he’s ready to take over the helm of the Florida Democratic Party as a replacement for Karen Thurman, who resigned today.
Smith, just off the campaign trail after running as Alex Sink’s running mate in her losing bid for governor, said he’s trying to build a consensus among Democrats smarting from major losses in this month’s elections in Florida and nationally.
Apart from Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s victory, Republicans swept the Florida Cabinet and nailed down a veto-proof super-majority in both the state House and Senate.
“I’m going to try to create a culture of success,” said Smith, a Gainesville lawyer and former prosecutor who earned a reputation as a dynamic orator during his tenure as a state senator.
Smith said he’s trying to get the support of a handful of other Democrats who’ve thrown their hats in the ring to replace Karen Thurman, who resigned today.
“I want to be a unifier. I don’t want to create division,” said Smith, a “This isn’t like a lot of campaigns. This is about trying to make sure that you first do no harm. Right now I’m focusing on trying to convince people that this is the right thing to do for me and for the party but I also remain open to listening to people’s concerns.”
Smith, who’s got behind-the-scenes backing of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, said he’s already won the support of Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Alan Siegel, who said Friday he’ll support Smith’s bid.
Whoever takes over for Thurman has their work cut out for them, said Broward County Democratic Chairman Mitch Ceasar.
“You don’t have the legislature. You don’t have the Cabinet. You don’t have the governor,” said Ceasar, also a one-time chairman of the FDP.
As in the past, Democrats also don’t have much of bench, either. But even that’s not their biggest problem, Ceasar said.
“We have to deal with the psychology of the voters today. Specifically, there was an enthusiasm gap. How do we bridge that and give Democrats and all voters hope or confidence that our solutions are the answer?
That’s a much bigger problem than a bench or a national election. It’s a huge task – for any individual or any party,” he said.