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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Keep it clean, boys

Just days after their campaigns battled over the state’s prison scandal, Jim Davis and Rod Smith appeared together at a Volusia County cookout Saturday afternoon. They steered clear of each other, not even offering the customary handshake, before offering forceful arguments why they should get the Democratic nod to take on the GOP primary winner in November.

About 250 people attended the event, held at a county park near Deland.

Smith practically yelled into the microphone, saying he would fight to keep class sizes small and boost teacher salaries. He promised to unroll a plan next week to address the state’s property insurance crisis. Not missing a chance to drop a one-liner, Smith offered advice to people getting their insurance bills. Baptists in the crowd, he said, should get some Maalox. “The rest of you can take some liquor.”

Davis amped up his delivery, too, and took an indirect swipe at his rival by blasting a “loophole” the state Legislature created last year in approving a bill removing flood damage from windstorm coverage. “It was a law written by insurance companies for the insurance companies,” Davis said.

No clear winner emerged, though plenty of supporters lined up on both sides. “He’s got my vote,” Joan Dion, 71, said after Davis finished his speech, the smoke from a barbeque grill streaming through the open pavilion. “He’s been fighting for Florida for so long and he has good ideas.” Robert Perkins, 76, said Davis seemed “too smooth.” He liked Smith’s story of humble beginnings. “He’s a man who’s got sentiment and deep roots.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:06pm]


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