How Much Does Rod Smith Help Alex Sink?
News of Sinks' choice leaked out Monday night with several news outlets, including the News Service, reporting that Smith would be the lieutenant governor candidate for the Democrats. Sink campaign officials had said they wouldn’t make an announcement until Thursday, but Sink put out a statement on Wednesday confirming her choice.
“The most important thing I was looking for in a lieutenant governor was someone with integrity and who cares as deeply about Florida as I do,” Sink said. “Rod Smith shares my commitment to growing Florida’s economy, improving our public schools, and holding state government accountable.”
The campaign still planned an announcement event Thursday in West Palm Beach.
Smith ran for governor in 2006, but trailed Democratic frontrunner Jim Davis throughout the contest. Smith was popular among his legislative colleagues and good on the campaign trail, but Davis, a five-term congressman, won the backing of the party's heavy hitters early on, including former Gov. Bob Graham and former Florida first lady Rhea Chiles.
Smith, who has been largely out of the public eye since his failed gubernatorial bid, said in a statement that he was “honored” to be Sink's choice.
“Like Alex, I was raised on a family farm – we both know the value of hard work and family, and have a deep love of Florida,” he said. “I spent my life standing up for working Floridians and protecting our communities, and I share her commitment to integrity and service.”
Before serving in the Senate, representing the Gainesville area, Smith was a prosecutor, probably best known for getting a conviction of Danny Rolling in the University of Florida serial murders of 1990. Smith was elected state attorney in the area in the middle of the Rolling trial, ousting Republican Len Register.
Sink did not have to make a lieutenant governor selection until after the primary, but reportedly began courting candidates earlier this summer. Neither GOP candidate, Rick Scott or Bill McCollum, have hinted at who they may pick as a running mate if they win the primary. However, Scott told reporters that he has been thinking about potential running mates.
Born: Nov. 15, 1949
Education: University of Tulsa and University of Florida College of Law
Family: Smith is married to Dee Dee Smith. The couple has one child together and each has one separately from previous marriages.
Current Job: Special Counsel to Avera & Smith, a Gainesville Law Firm
Career Highlights: Smith served as state attorney for the eighth judicial circuit from 1993 to 2000 when he was elected to the state Senate. He ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006, losing to former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Santa Fe Community College and University of Florida.
Legislative Accomplishments: Smith was relatively well-liked on both sides of the aisle, and generally considered a moderate. Though a member of the Democratic Party, he had a strong record on gun rights and other law and order issues. In 2006, when a 14-year-old boy died in state custody, Smith announced legislation to close Department of Juvenile Justice boot camps. He also helped spearhead a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans that resisted a push by then Gov. Jeb Bush to weaken the state's class size amendment.