Lawton "Bud" Chiles does some old-fashioned politickin' Ybor

06/11/10 Kate Bradshaw
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Last week, the Florida governor’s race got a little more interesting when Lawton “Bud” Chiles III entered the race without party affiliation. Though he’s the son of former governor Lawton Chiles, he’s still somewhat unknown. Today the gubernatorial hopeful was in Ybor City talking about the changes he’d like to see in Tallahassee.

In 1970, then-State Senator Lawton Chiles II walked from the panhandle to the Keys. His son, Lawton “Bud” Chiles III, was sixteen at the time. On a walk of his own this morning, Bud Chiles ambled down Ybor City’s Seventh Avenue, stopping and talking to everyone he could – from a homeless man asking for help to a mature Sarasota couple stopping for breakfast on their way to IKEA.

Perhaps to the chagrin of Democrats who fear he might split the November vote, thereby handing the governorship to a Republican, Chiles announced June third that he was running without party affiliation. Today, he explained why.

He said that money was a factor in his decision not to campaign against state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the Democratic primary, but mostly because he says campaign dollars from special interests mean bad policy. Chiles gave a striking example of what happens under the influence of corporate dollars.

His father was the first Democratic Governor to preside over a Republican-led legislature in Florida history. Chiles would likely face the same political challenge, not to mention legislators on both sides who are controlled by special interests. He said fighting corruption would be the first thing on his agenda.

The second, he said, would be shifting more governing power to local communities.

He said another thing he’d like to tackle is a more sustainable energy policy.

As for immigration policy, he said he’s for strong border enforcement, but would leave it to the Feds.

Chiles has walked over 300 miles in the past year as part of a grassroots campaign to engage the public. But the Governor’s race is still anyone’s game, if most voters are like that Sarasota couple that was en route to IKEA.

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