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Florida Democrat chairman Rod Smith won't run for governor

Scratch one name off the list of potential Democratic candidates for governor in 2014: Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith.

In a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, the former prosecutor and state senator from Alachua ruled out another bid for governor — he lost the 2006 primary to Jim Davis — because his priority is his 25-year-old son, Dillon, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.

"That's not happening," said Smith, who previously had left the door open. "I can't foresee a circumstance given the things going on in my life that you're aware of with the illness of my son. That's where my focus is, and that's where my focus is going to remain for awhile."

Other prospective Democratic challengers to Gov. Rick Scott include Alex Sink; state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston; Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; and former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales.

And there's the chance former Gov. Charlie Crist will run as a Democrat.

Smith predicts at least one big upset this election year: Former Democratic state Sen. Al Lawson of Tallahassee, he said, will unseat U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, in north Florida.

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

A new spot for Crist?

The Barack Obama campaign last week released an updated list of its top campaign donation bundlers. Among them? Former Republican Gov. Crist, who raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for the president's re-election campaign.

It makes us wonder. Maybe a governor's race isn't the next step for Crist, still registered independent. How about a nice ambassadorship in Barbados?

Rahm Emanuel's take

Buzz caught up with Chicago Mayor — and former Obama chief of staff — Rahm Emanuel, while he was campaigning in Tampa on Saturday and heading to South Florida for the same.

With the final presidential debate on foreign policy taking place Monday in Boca Raton, Emanuel scoffed at the suggestion that Mitt Romney can persuade voters Obama is not a strong enough ally of Israel: "You have defense secretary Ehud Barak — a former prime minister, the most decorated soldier in Israel's history — and let me just quote him: 'No president has ever been better for Israel's national security and cooperation between our national security apparatus and Israel's national security than President Obama.' "

Emanuel also pushed back on the media talk that Obama is aloof, and doesn't especially like mixing it up with people: "You guys are the ones who keep saying, 'Oh, he's not approachable.' That's not what the American people say. I think maybe you guys should evaluate where you're coming from. Maybe it's you. Maybe it's the elite journalists who aren't all that approachable."

What's a second Obama term look like? "Obama's next term: We have been for a decade at war. It's now time to build America, and I think the investments in education, groundbreaking scientific research, our infrastructure, are going to be critical investments and tax fairness that will allow us to grow."

Is there any reason to think Washington and Congress will be less gridlocked and dysfunctional after the election? "Here's the deal. After an election, they're going to have to get functional. ... Everybody knows what's going to have to get done, and an election also has meaning and it has clarity."

On the electoral map: "I kind of describe this as six turbo-charged gubernatorial races — one in Ohio, one in Florida and then you've got Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia," he said suggesting that Nevada likely goes with Obama and North Carolina with Romney.

Ken Detzner's big day

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has something else on his mind these days besides managing a smooth presidential election in the nation's biggest battleground state. Detzner, 60, planned to marry on Saturday for the first time.

"Life goes on, even if there's an election," he said. "We're just so happy. It's worth waiting for."

Detzner's bride is also a familiar Tallahassee name: Mary Kay Cariseo, a governmental affairs specialist for the Nemours Foundation. She was for many years a lobbyist for the Florida Association of Counties.

Dreams from director

Don't be alarmed if you receive an odd DVD in the mail. California filmmaker Joel Gilbert has sent his latest production, Dreams From My Real Father, to voters in Florida and other swing states. The widely ridiculed premise is that Obama's real father is communist poet and journalist Frank Marshall Davis.

Gilbert has made films suggesting Elvis is alive and Paul McCartney is dead.

Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Connie Mack IV. The underdog U.S. Senate candidate looked confident, aggressive, and not the least bit intimidated to debate incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson at their one and only televised matchup.

Losers of the week

Connie Mack IV. Rarely has any statewide candidate been so shameless about hurling false statements and accusations.

Al Austin. The wealthy Tampa developer long pushing for a GOP convention in Tampa — who has been twisting arms across the state for donations — only ponied up $25,000?! Yeesh. And it took him until late July to do it.

Florida Democrat chairman Rod Smith won't run for governor 10/20/12 [Last modified: Saturday, October 20, 2012 8:39pm]
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