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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Anybody seen Rod Smith lately?



TAMPA — Democratic candidate for governor Alex Sink didn't have to look far to find a credible bulldog to raise sharp questions about Republican Rick Scott's extensive legal and business baggage. Her running mate, Rod Smith, was a longtime prosecutor who knows how to play rough in politics.

But Sink, who on Monday unveiled a two-minute ad attacking Scott's business record, has kept Smith in the background. The low profile for Smith, a charismatic speaker and former leader in the state Senate, has been noted by Democratic activists across the state. Sink hasn't even added his name to campaign signs or stickers, an apparent cost-savings measure as they face a candidate who already has spent about $55 million.

"Anyone notice that Lt. Governor candidate Rod Smith has disappeared off the radar,'' Michael Hussey of Tampa's Pushing Rope blog tweeted over the weekend.

Miami Democratic consultant Derek Newton joked that Smith must be in the witness protection program. "I was just thinking about that the other day. I haven't seen any sign of him here or heard anything,'' he said.

While Republican lieutenant governor candidate Jennifer Carroll is showing before the cameras in major cities, Smith is more likely to show up in weekly newspapers published in north Florida communities that often favor Republicans — rural counties such as Levy, Gilchrist, Okeechobee and Dixie.

"I can tell you I am very busy,'' Smith, the former Gainesville area prosecutor, said in a phone interview Monday. "We are doing what Democrats haven't done so much in recent years — and that's campaign everywhere in Florida. I feel very good about how we're doing in some of these areas Democrats don't always do well."

(Story here)

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 5:45am]


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