29 August 2005

Smith takes fight to Crist, becomes the law and order candidate

As Florida Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist was knocking people over to apear on television during Hurricane Katrina, Senator Rod Smith (D-Gainesville) was pulling the rug out from under Crist's plans to be the "tough on crime" candidate for governor. Smith has gained the endorsements of seven North Florida sheriffs and promises that more are coming. While Crist is busy reserving the moving trucks for next November, the Smith campaign is saying, "Not so fast!" It looks like Crist may have a fight on his hands.

Senator Smith faces Congressman Jim Davis (D-Tampa) and former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox in the Democratic primary. The victor will face the winner between Crist and Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher in the GOP contest.

Most would expect the current attorney general to be the law and order candidate, but Smith, the former Alachua County State Attorney, is not ready to concede this terrain. Last week, Sheriffs Jerry Whitehead of Union County, Dewey Hatcher of Dixie County, David Turner of Gilchrist County, J. Harrell Reid of Hamilton County, Owen Carson McCall Jr. of Lafayette County, Dean Kelly of Putnam County and Joey Dobson of Baker County endorsed Senator Smith for governor and announced they are forming "Sheriffs for Smith." They intend to encourage more law enforcement leaders to back the former prosecutor who convicted and sentenced cold-blooded mass murderer Danny Rollings to death. Two of the sheriffs to endorse Smith, Gilcrest County Sheriff David Turner and Lafayette County Sheriff Owen Carson, supported Governor Jeb Bush in his 2002 reelection race.

This announcement has to hurt Charlie Crist. As the top law enforcement officer in the state, Crist should see this as a major snub. The state attorney general should automatically have the law and order crowd solidly in his corner. The fact that Smith has picked up so many defections is a sign that cracks are forming in Crist's race for governor.

It is also refreshing to see Smith taking the fight to Crist and the Republicans by venturing into an area where Democrats are normally timid. In recent years, Florida Democrats have refused to discuss law and order issues, instead limiting their focus to topics like education and ... education. The Democrats' silence has allowed Republicans to define them on other issues.

Rod Smith has decided to take the law enforcement issue back for the Democrats. He will also probably bring some so-called "soccer moms" back to the Democratic Party as well.

Congratulations to Senator Smith, and congratulations to Florida Democrats. It looks like you finally have a candidate who is unwilling to concede important issues, like law enforcement, to the Republicans and instead take the fight to the GOP.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for Smith. He is the only Dem that can possibly beat Charlie Crist, and this story shows why.

1:14:00 PM  
Blogger phinky said...

When was the last governor from North Florida elected? I know Fla hasn't had a candidate for statewide office (governor or senator) from North Florida since 1986 when Steve Pajcic was the Democratic nominee for governor who lost to Bob Martinez.

7:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lt. Governor Buddy MacKay from Marion County, did run in 1998 and lost.

It has been awhile. Here are the last 4 who were Governor and called North Florida home:

Reubin O'Donovon Askew, Pensacola, January 5, 1971 to January 2, 1979

William Haydon Burns, Jacksonville, (2 year term, because of Constitutional change in election cycle) January 5, 1965 to January 3, 1967

Cecil Farris Bryant, Marion County, January 3, 1961 to January 5, 1965

Thomas LeRoy Collins, Leon County, January 4, 1955 to January 3, 1961

8:24:00 PM  
Blogger RightDemocrat said...

It's about time that we had another Governor from North Florida although not the transplanted South Floridian who served formerly as the "weak" Mayor of Tallahassee. Smith is to be applauded for taking a strong law and order stance. Democrats need to be tough on crime as most voters want mandatory sentences for violent crime, greater punishment for sex offenders and capital punishment. A tougher stand against white collar criminals who swindle folks out of their savings is also needed. These smart guys need to do long sentences with the street criminals. I think we all know who will get the top side of the bunk !

10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous concerned mom said...

Florida needs a governor that will reach future criminals while they're still in school.

People who say we need a law and order candidate are giving up on our schools and on our children.

Shame on you for trying to ignore the real crisis in Florida, and the real opportunity for Democrats: education.

4:15:00 PM  
Blogger RightDemocrat said...

Concerned mom is presenting a false choice between law and order and education. I happen to be a strong supporter of education and social programs, but we do need to protect public safety also. Democrats have focused on education. Our 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor talked almost exclusively about education and look where it got him. I am all for emphasizing education especially improving our student performance in critical areas like math and science. We need after school programs to reduce juvenille crime. I am all for trying to address the root causes of crime but we have to deal with the sociopaths who are leave us with a tremendous human cost if we let them go free to victimize others. In the long run, it is more cost effective to lock up the hard core criminals and throw away the key.

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

Good call Rightdemocrat. Whoever heard of a single endorsement this early pigeon-holing a candidate? If someone wants to do something about education, they better open themselves up for help from a cross-section of groups, along with the education community. Also, most Sheriffs are highly involved with creating, assisting, and securing funding for intervention programs in the schools. They'd rather see a kid waving their diploma at their parents at graduation rather than waving a gun at one of their deputies at a crime scene.

8:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good call Rightdemocrat. Whoever heard of a single endorsement this early pigeon-holing a candidate? If someone wants to do something about education, they better open themselves up for help from a cross-section of groups, along with the education community. Also, most Sheriffs are highly involved with creating, assisting, and securing funding for intervention programs in the schools. They'd rather see a kid waving their diploma at their parents at graduation rather than waving a gun at one of their deputies at a crime scene.

8:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good anonymous supports high school graduation over incarceration. I agree with "concerned mom" though, education (and the system's failure) is a much more obvious problem than law enforcement right now. It should be an issue, but certainly nowhere near the level of education.

2:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Liza said...

Please, Smith?

I may vomit.

The no-show candidate. The one who is constantly late or skips entire things entirely?

The one who scowls at passers-by?

The one whose voting record is definitely not that of a true Democrat?

The one in the pocket of big sugar?

You think he can take Crist? Not in your wildest dreams.

7:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liza...take your meds....

8:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim Davis needs to drop out now and make way for Rod Smith.

1:19:00 AM  
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