Rod Smith Campaigns in Hillsborough County by Mitch E. Perry


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith campaign in his opponent’s home district yesterday. In the Citrus Park section of Hillsborough County, the Alachua County State Senator told an audience of more than 100 people that he will NOT concede anything to Tampa area Congressman Jim for the nomination for Governor (roll tape)

Open with ambience (roll tape#1 o.q."

It's Memorial Day afternoon, and outside of Francine Simmons home in a quite subdivision in the Citrus Park section of Hillsborough County, local Democrats are introducing themselves to each other before enjoying hot dogs and cold drinks. But the main event is to hear from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith, making one of his biggest campaign appearances yet in his chief opponent's home district (roll tape#2 o.q." ")

In 2 polls released last week, Smith trails Tampa area Congressman Jim Davis by an average of about 18 percentage points. But nearly half of those surveyed said they haven't made up their mind on who they'll support for the Democratic nomination . Sitting outside in a backyard patio, Robin Moran, a Pinellas County resident, said she has heard the "buzz" on Rod Smith , and wanted to check out the real thing (roll tape#3 o.q." is really going on")

Raymond Simmons lives in Tampa, and says he knows Jim Davis' record, but wanted to come and learn more about Smith (roll tape#4 o.q."get a feel for him")

Donna Friedman from Valrico admitted that she hasn't really been focused on the Governor's race, and was also one of those "un-decided voters" (roll tape#5 o.q."or Jim")

As Senator Smith was delayed in his arrival, more people kept on arriving at Francine Simmons’ home (roll tape ambience). Simmons is a member of the DFA - Democracy for America, which was spawned during Howard Dean's presidential run. She says she was ready to host an event that would bring in a few dozen people - but then the excitement about seeing Senator Smith grew (roll tape6 o.q."plain people")

Simmons is a former Republican who switched parties during the 2004 Presidential election, and says that she didn't know anything about Rod Smith until she saw him speak at the Democrats convention in Orlando last December (roll tape#6 o.q."talking about it")

Shortly before 3 PM, a somewhat chagrined Rod Smith approached the houseful of supporters and the curious (roll tape#7 o.q."has seen Rod Smith")

Smith then delivered a speech that lasted about 25 minutes. In a packed living room, he told the crowd that with so many undecided voters, he wasn't going to concede Jim Davis's home district up without a fight (roll tape#8 o.q."every other county in Florida")

At this stage of the campaign, Smith cannot afford to write off any voters. The State Senator from Gainsville trails Jim Davis by 21 points according to a Quinipiac Survey, by 15 points according to a Strategic Visions Poll. But those same polls STILL Say that most Democrats don't know who to vote for, and Smith is acutely aware of that (roll tape#9 o.q."of this state")

Smith never mentioned Jim Davis in his speech, but did mention Governor Bush and the Republican led Legislature. He criticizes the state's education system, especially the emphasis on the FCAT. (roll tape#10 o.q." )

Like other Democrats in recent days,, Smith blasted the recently enacted property insurance reform. And he said it’s the Democrats time to take over in Tallahassee (roll tape#11 o.q.�thank you so much for being here�)

After his speech, Pinellas County voter Robin Moran was no longer undecided (roll tape#12 o.q.� oh yes�)

Summer’s just beginning, and so is the Campaign Season. The Democratic Primary takes place the day after Labor Day.

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