19 August 2005

Rod Smith considers raising taxes

While the Rod Smith campaign may state that this title is misleading and mischaracterizes what Senator Rod Smith (D-Gainesville) said in today's St. Petersburg Times article, I would respond with "too bad." What do you think the Republicans are going to say next fall?

Today's St. Petersburg Times devoted 622 words to the Smith campaign, focusing primarily on the campaign's argument that Smith is the most electable next fall. The piece, which was based on an interview between Smith and the St. Petersburg Times Editorial Board, was heavy on rhetoric and light on substance, but it was the last sentence that jumped out at readers. Asked if he would consider raising cigarette taxes, Senator Smith said that he would. Of course, he said that "you'd have to talk about it last." Still, I wouldn't wait for the Republicans to clarify Smith's position for him.

The point of this post is that the Democrats cannot win in Florida if they fail to control their message. Democrats should know that the GOP is only waiting for a mention of taxes, and they have to be smarter than this. (It was only three years ago when this same idea hurt Bill McBride's campaign for governor.)

Of course, I doubt that Smith volunteered his position on cigarette taxes to the editorial board. He was probably only answering a specific question. Still, Smith and the other Democratic candidates need to steal a page from George W.'s playbook. Don't answer the questions you don't like. Just repeat your talking points. Believe it or not, it works.

Smith's cigarette stumble is not a big deal. He is already on record raising cigarette taxes by supporting Senate Bill 2112 in 2004. Fortunately for Smith, the bill was pushed by the GOP, sponsored by Senator Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland) and in the House by Representative Frank Farkas (R-St. Petersburg). If Smith were to slip on taxes, this was definitely the way to go. The Republicans will have a tough time attacking a position that their own party has championed in recent years. (But don't worry. They'll try.)

Nevertheless, Smith and the rest of the Democrats should see this as a wake-up call. Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher will be tough campaigners, and the Democrats cannot afford to get sloppy.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard Smith speak, and he does tend to ramble on about issues. It shows that he is knowledgeable about state issues, but he risks mistakes like this. I think he is the strongest candidate that the Dems have, but he needs to start being a better campaigner.

2:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is stupid. Rod Smith is the only Democrat that can win for Governor and picking on little shit like this is ridiculous. Why aren't you pointing out that Maddox may have been anti-union when he was mayor of Tallahassee. That is a much bigger issue than this.

5:16:00 PM  
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6:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have the Republicans got you that spooked? Very sad. To begin with, "ammunition" or not, Republicans will ALWAYS hang the tax issue on Democrats. It's a matter of being prepared to destroy the credibility of the messengers. Taking a grain of truth and exploding it to the stratosphere, which is practiced quite frequently, is probably not practical in this case. Crist and Gallagher both have legislative records and I'm certain there were instances where they did raise taxes in some form. Cue voiceover, roll Senate and House Journal pages with record of Tom and Charlie's roll call votes.

The Republican primary winner is going to have their hands full trying to convince the independents and the center that they are human beings after the bloody "I'm more conservative than you" contest.

After weeks of acerbic posts on this blog I'm curious why this particular issue woke you from your slumber.

2:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taxes will be raised on South Florida residents to say the least if Smith is Governor thanks to his close alliance with Sugar. Evergaldes cleanup that is being madated by the Federal Government is going to be paid for by the taxpayers in the form of higher taxes rather than by the guilty party sugar.

8:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a good perspective. It is very clear that Rod Smith is not a disciplined campaigner and that several remarks made early could come back to hurt him. The other sides "Stupid coments" will be limited but the good news is that there is time for him to improve with out TOO much damage being done...

1:44:00 PM  
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