Smith –Davis Battle is on By Mitch E. Perry

06/02/06

The Florida Professional Firefighters, representing 21,000 firefighters and EMS personnel, endorsed State Senator Rod Smith for Governor today.

For Smith, it was another endorsement from organized labor as he continues to try to gain ground on Tampa area Congressman Jim Davis for the Democratic nomination for Governor.

Although Davis leads by a substantial amount over State Senator Smith in all polls recently taken, Smith has been on a roll of late, getting positive press attention and considerable union support. Organized labor is one of the most important interest groups in the Democratic Party, and tomorrow, one of the biggest events yet in the just battle for the nomination takes place, when one of the state’s biggest public employee Unions – AFSME – the American Federation of State and Muncipal Employees – announces their endorsement for Governor.

The Davis campaign has been working hard to get the AFSCME endorsement, which will be decided tomorrow afternoon in Orlando. There will be 180 delegates representing the 90 different AFSCME unions in the state voting on the endorsement tomorrow afternoon.

Doug Martin is the union’s spokesman. He says their endorsement will be significant for the candidate who gets it (roll tape#1 o.q.�among our people�)

All week long the Davis for Governor Campaign has been e-mailing political reporters about the differences on key labor issues. Today the comparison was between Davis opposing the outsourcing of American jobs to foreign countries on a number of different votes – with Smith voting against a ban on state contractors for shipping jobs out of Florida.

Wayne Garcia writes about politics for the Weekly Planet alternative newspaper in Tampa. He says the daily bulletins comparing the congressman’s labor record vs. Smith’s shows that Davis is clearly concerned about Smith getting AFSCME’s endorsement, and the momentum his campaign seems to be getting as well (roll tape#2 o.q.�worried about�)

This week’s blasts by the Davis campaign are the first time the candidates – or at least their campaigns – have begun to engage in the warfare that traditionally happens in political races.

On Memorial Day, Smith received positive media attention when he attended a gathering in a supporter’s home in Hillsborough County, Davis home district. And though the left leaning Democracy for America group that hosted the event seemed to have fallen in love with Senator Smith – political columnist Wayne Garcia says it indicates that Congressman Davis’ slightly more progressive voting record is somehow being lost in translation (roll tape#3 o.q.�who say the same thing�)

Governor Jeb Bush has never been considered a friend of public employees. In his 2nd inaugural speech in 2003, he infamously mentioned in his speech his dream that state buildings might be devoid of workers in the future.

Doug Martin from AFSCME says that though his union membership will endorse and work hard for either Democratic candidate this year, they would also easily support Republican candidates Tom Gallagher or Charlie Crist over Bush (roll tape#4 o.q.� Washington�)

The AFSCME convention begins tonight in Orlando, with the endorsement vote for Governor taking place tomorrow afternoon.

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