Rod Smith Campaigns in Ybor City by Nancy Morgan06/27/06
Lead: Ybor CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Historic Marti-Maceo Social Club was the location for a campaign stop for Rod Smith Monday evening. Smith, who is running against Jim Davis in the Democratic Primary for governor, drew a large crowd of about 200 enthusiastic supporters. WMNFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Nancy Morgan was there.
Red white and blue centerpieces adorned each table. Rod Smith signs lined the walls. Volunteers busily set up the food tables. Some early arrivals milled around, while others sat quietly, waiting. Joyce Neuman was eager to talk about why she thought Smith would win, but was not too sure about SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s position on some of the issues.
Music created a festive atmosphere, and as more people streamed into the room, conversation became lively. Juan Capin, a grassroots organizer of the event, sounded confident of SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ability to win.
But for Capin, like many who attended, SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s charisma was more important than his stand on the issues.
Megan Foster, another event organizer put it this way.
As Smith arrived and made his way to the podium, he shook hands and posed for pictures.
When it was time for him to speak, the room became quiet. But soon, the charisma that people had talked about was evident.
He touched on a variety of issues ranging from education and his opposition the way the FCAT is used in schools, to the property insurance crisis in Florida. He ended with a challenge.
Then came questions, and the mood became a bit more serious. Someone asked about recent charges that he was had been a deadbeat Dad.
Other questions followed, and Smith handled each one with ease. Soon he was making his way out of the hall through the crowd. Betty Reed, a candidate running for State Representative in District 59 summed up her feelings about what she had heard.
As the sizzling months of July and August heat up, so too will the primary campaigns. The issues will be debated, and the candidatesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ differences will be highlighted. On September 5th, voters will have to decide if Rod Smith or Jim Davis will challenge the Republican candidate in November to become the next governor of Florida. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m Nancy Morgan for WMNF News.