Sen. Smith is in governor's race


Published: Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 30, 2005 at 1:24 a.m.
Alachua County residents will soon need to take the "Draft Rod Smith for Governor" stickers off their cars.
They'll need the space for ones that say "Smith '06."
Smith, the Democratic state senator from Alachua, told a Sun reporter Saturday that he will be seeking his party's nomination for governor.
"I'm in," Smith said during a University of Florida fund-raiser Saturday evening. A spokesman said Smith would make his decision official on Monday.
It has been an open secret in Tallahassee for months that Smith, the former state attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit who prosecuted the Danny Rolling case, was interested in the governor's race. Saturday he spoke candidly of his pending announcement with constituents at the University of Florida's British Invasion party and concert at the Harn Museum.
"I'm running for governor," the senator told one guest.
"I guess you've heard," he told another. "I don't know, according to the polls I'm either up 4 or down 3 (percentage points)."
Competition for the office is already heating up, and prominent members of both parties are testing the waters.
Lawton "Bud" Chiles III, son of the late two-term governor, has already filed for the race with the state Division of Elections and Tallahassee rumor mills suggest other Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa, may run.
No Republican has yet filed for the governor's race, but state Attorney General Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher are expected to join the race.
The field may be getting crowded, but state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Ft. Lauderdale, said Smith is the only Democratic candidate who can take back the governor's mansion.
"I am a strong believer that the only person who can win the state of Florida is someone who can win North Florida," Campbell said. "Rod Smith is that candidate."
Campbell said Democrats should focus on which candidate is best suited to win the general election, and said he agreed to stay out of the governor's race to support Smith. Campbell said he also agreed to stay out of the race for Attorney General if Florida Democratic Chairman Scott Maddox, rumored to be interested in the governor's race, chose to run for the cabinet office instead.
Smith's relative obscurity in the Democratic enclaves of South Florida won't present an obstacle, Campbell said in a telephone interview Saturday, because other members of the party would make sure he was known.
"He's intelligent, he's articulate, he cares for people," Campbell said. "He will make sure that his platform will consider all people whether they're black or white and will represent everybody."

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