With three weeks left till primary elections, 42 percent of Democratic voters still remain undecided about their choice for who they want to represent their party in the race for Florida governor. US Congressman Jim Davis has led the polls over opponent and state representative Rod Smith, but the gap has been closing as the Septmeber 5th primaries near. Today in downtown Tampa Davis spoke at a Tiger Bay club meeting.

ACT: I am not a screamer, not a cheerleader. I am what I am.

Jim Davis made no apologies about his style. Lately his Democratic opponent Rod Smith has gained ground within the party. Smith is known for his energizing speeches. After hearing him speak, Smith supporters talk about the state senator with zeal.

But in the question and answer session after his campaign speech, Davis said that Smith, as a member of the state legislature, is part of Florida’s problem.

ACT: the guy I’m running against, says he has his fingerprints on most legislation out of tallahasee

Davis needs to make the differences between him and Smith clear to undecided voters, and today’s speech was of particular importance. Rod Smith had also been invited to speak but declined the opportunity to debate. Pundits say that without winning over the Tampa Bay area, Smith won’t have a chance at the primary. And as a Tampa native, Jim Davis’s roots grow long and strong in the Bay area.

But it has not been a good week for Davis here in the Bay area as over the weekendRod Smith got editorial endorsements from the St. Petersburg Times and three other major newspapers.

ACT: I would be honored to have the endorsements of some of those newspapers

Those that are undecided, like strip club owner and Hillsborough County Commission candidate Joe Redner, say that Davis and Smith are too similar.

ACT: Their platforms are basically the same… going ot have to wait and see…

So what is Davis’s platform? According to today’s speech he is strongly against offshore drilling. He said Republicans in Congress want to drill 40 miles off Florida’s coast and “they don’t give a flip about our beaches, they don’t care about our economy, they don’t care about environment, it’s strictly about the bottom line.�

ACT: We need to protect our beaches… next governor will know difference between Texas beach and Florida beach …

Davis also slammed the FCAT, the standardized tests introduced by the Republicans under Governor Jeb Bush. The test is touted by the Bush administration as turning around Florida schools, but teachers say it limits the curriculum to where they are teaching to take the test and not to learn. Davis said it should be used as a diagnostic tool only and not political weapon.

ACT: Look at what this leg done to public education… why don’t they just admit that they want to privatize education or test anything that moves…

The single biggest issue on the minds of Florida voters and what Davis called the single biggest threat to the state is home owners insurance.

ACT: We’re one storm away from economic disaster… most decisions about insurance are made on the golf course in Tallahassee… I will stand up to the insurance lobby

The Rod Smith campaign issued a press release once again bringing up Davis’s history of missing votes in Congress as he’s been on the campaign trail. Davis said he’s in Washington voting when it matters.

ACT: When I neeed to be in Washington I have been in Washington…

Despite his talk about fighting the Bush administration, Davis has been called a centrist. This was evident as he emphasized the importance of bringing together both parties in state politics. Testament to this was Hillsborough County School Board Member Jennifer Faliero. She’s a Republican who stood up before the Tiger Bay Club audience to say she was going to vote for Davis if he survived the primary.

ACT: o.q. “it made an impression upon me�

While today’s meeting was limited to Tiger Bay Club members and their guests, Tampa Bay voters will have a chance to see the differences between Jim Davis and Rod Smith a week from tomorrow when a live debate will be simulcast on WMNF at 8pm.

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