Adam C. Smith, Times Political Editor

Adam C. Smith

Political editor since 2001, Adam Smith was named the best political writer in Florida by and one of the country's Top 10 political reporters by the Columbia Journalism Review. He focuses on state and national politics.

Smith has been with the Times since 1992 and has covered local and state government, as well as general assignment and investigative beats. He appears most Sundays on Political Connections on Bay News 9, is a primary contributor to The Buzz political blog. Smith grew up in New York City, graduated Kenyon College in Ohio, and when he's not chasing politicians tries to keep up with his wife, three kids and basset hound.

Phone: (727) 893-8241


Blog: The Buzz

Twitter: @AdamSmithTimes

  1. Team Rick Scott: Charlie Crist's weak ground game is delivering us second term


    FROM:         Tim Saler, Deputy Campaign Manager
    TO:        Campaign Supporters
    DATE:        October 21, 2014
    SUBJECT:    Charlie Crist’s Early Voting Meltdown

    The first day of early voting is in the books, and Charlie Crist’s campaign is in complete meltdown.
    Charlie Crist's campaign is a carbon copy of the Obama playbook. Charlie’s path to victory was to duplicate Obama’s success in absentee ballots and lay down a huge early voting advantage that couldn't be beaten on Election Day.
    We already know that the wheels have come off Crist’s absentee ballot effort, with Republicans up 14 points on absentee returns -- in comparison, Republicans were up only 5 points at this stage in 2012.
    Now, with the first day of early voting behind us, we know Crist’s early voting operation isn’t getting it done either. In the 2008 and 2012 Obama victories, Democrats jumped out to their largest early voting leads in the first two days, and Republicans closed the gap.
    At this same date in 2008, Democrats out-voted Republicans by 24 points in early votes.
    Today, Republicans have cut that advantage by 22 points, with one county still outstanding to report.
    In 2012, early voting didn’t begin for another four days, but even then, Democrats led early voting by 13 points after the first day. Charlie Crist’s campaign isn’t close to achieving those kinds of margins.
    And Crist’s campaign even got a head start. Republican strongholds like Collier County don’t begin voting until Thursday, and strong Republican counties like Bay County don’t begin voting until this upcoming Saturday.
    Even in Crist’s base counties, Republicans are out-performing Democrats. In 2012, Republicans made up only 17 percent of early voters in Broward County. Today, the Republican share of early voters in Broward County is already up 5 points – a 30% increase compared to two years ago.
    The story is the same in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. In 2012, Republicans made up 23 percent of early voters. Today, the Republican share in Palm Beach County is already up 5 points as well – a more than 20% increase compared to 2012. And in Miami-Dade County, the Republican share is up 8 points already – a nearly 35% increase.
    All across Florida, we are seeing the same thing – Rick Scott supporters are energized and voting, while Charlie Crist’s own base is simply not turning out. The Crist campaign’s master plan to replicate Barack Obama’s 2012 performance has fallen completely apart.
    As Charlie Crist likes to say, facts are stubborn things. Here’s a particularly stubborn fact for Charlie: Election Day is already here – and Rick Scott is winning. Even Charlie Crist, the same guy who raised taxes by $2.2 billion during a recession, can’t come up with enough fuzzy math to cover for the fact that Democrats simply aren’t turning out to vote for him.
    Thank you for everything you do. It’s just 14 days until victory, and your continued support will get us there....

  2. Stuff we learned about Tom Slade yesterday


    Darryl Paulson, the retired USF St. Pete political scientist who had been working on a book about the rise of the Florida Republican Party, was kind enough to share with me his notes from his 2005 interview with Tom Slade. Some nuggets:

    ***Money.  "I ‘discovered how to raise big money,”" Slade said, recounting his meeting with J.W. Wolfe, patriarch of a Columbus, OH banking and newspaper family, a "gruff old SOB' who Slade said was  “five-foot-four and 10 feet around” and wanted to establish residency in Florida for tax purposes. Slade suggested one of the best ways of doing that was to establish a history of contributing to the state GOP. Wolfe wrote a check for $50,000, and Slade employed the same pitch to other recent retirees wanting to establish residency in the income tax-free Sunshine State. Party funds rose from $7 million to $34 million.
    ***Jeb Bush. “Bright,” “principled,” “but uncompromisingly steadfast, without tolerance for any advice.”  “dictatorial.”  Brought in young people.  “Doesn’t seek advice well.”  “Lacks maturity to be president of the United States.”  “arrogant as hell, but so is George....Jeb “is the 1400 pound gorilla” on the back of the Rep Party.”  He is its strength, but he is also dominating.  He predicted we would soon “hear a sigh of relief from leg” as Jeb’s influence diminished after leaving office. (Slade later said he was describing his former opinion of Jeb)
    ***Mel Martinez:  “Class act in every respect.”  “A likeable trial lawyer, and that’s hard to find.”
    ***Lawton Chiles. He never saw the Republican wave coming.  The Republican revolution was not due to any “masterstroke” by Reps, but by a convergence of factors.  It was the “perfect political storm.”
    ***How luck helped the RPOF: The 1992 reapportionment in particular was a turning point. Democrats controlled the process with a Democratic governor and majority of the House and Senate, but they hurt themselves by failing to gree on Congressional districts. It was left to the Federal Courts who created two majority black districts and one minority influence district.  When Paulson told Slade that he had been hired by the Fla NAACP to help them argue for minority districts and testified in court about the long history of racial discrimination in voting, Slade responded, “Here’s to you, brother.”
    ***Future growth. He believed Republicans then had more or less reached their zenith in Florida and that reapportionment in 2002 could help the Democrats regain legislative ground. He saw Bill Nelson's Senate seat as the biggest target for Republicans.
    ***The biggest threat to the Florida GOP? Itself. "We must be careful not to be our own worst enemy."...

  3. Florida GOP pioneer Tom Slade dies at 78

    State Roundup

    Tom Slade, one of the smartest, funniest and most consequential political operators in modern Florida history, died Monday afternoon at age 78.

    "I can't think of anyone as instrumental in the development of the modern Republican Party as Tom Slade," said retired University of South Florida St. Petersburg political scientist Darryl Paulson, who has studied the state party extensively. "Jeb Bush, in many respects, could not be possible without Tom Slade."...

    Republican state Sen. Tom Slade, center, is applauded by outgoing party chief Van Poole, left, and opponent Sherry Plymale after Slade was elected chairman in the early 1990s.
  4. GOP Pioneer Tom Slade dies at 78


    Tom Slade, one of the smartest, funniest, and most consequential political operators in modern Florida history, died this afternoon at age 78, his sister confirms.

    "I can't think of anyone as instrumental  in the development of the modern Republican Party as Tom Slade," said retired USF St. Petersburg political scientist Darryl Paulson, who has studied the state party exensively. "Jeb Bush many respects could not be possible without Tom Slade."...

  5. Tom Slade in critical condition


    From a release:

    Tom Slade, former Florida State Senator and State Representative and perhaps best known for his leadership as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida from 1993-1999, today is in critical condition after suffering heart failure last week.  He was unable to be revived for a period of time and is now receiving care at Orange Park Medical Center.

    The Slade family is asking for your thoughts and prayers at this time. An update will be provided as more information is available. ...

  6. Charlie Crist fans the early voting flames


    Charlie and Cafrole Crist hopped out of a staffer's car in front of the downtown St. Petersburg elections office and a crowd of nearly 50 started singing happy birthday. Today is the former and maybe future first lady's 45th birthday, and they celebrated it by taking advantage of the first day of early voting.

    Someone presented Crist with a hand-held, battery-operated fan, an homage of sorts to his debate performance last week....

    Charlie Crist examines a portable hand fan given to him before he voted early in St. Petersburg on Monday. Crist voted with his wife, Carole. Monday was the first day of early voting in Florida. "It's nice to be cool." said Crist.
  7. Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics


    Winner of the week

    The Fan. Was there any doubt this week? We don't know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of helpful publicity Fangate generated for Charlie Crist. All we know is Crist showed up for the start of a televised debate and Gov. Rick Scott did not.

    Loser of the week

    Rick Scott. With a giant assist from campaign manager Melissa Sellers and debate coach Brett O'Donnell, Scott — and Florida yet again — became a laughingstock after trying to stick it to Crist with a petty debate demand. Scott's explanation — that he was waiting for Crist to show up when the world saw Crist was the only one who did — was as strange as Scott's debate performance....

    Fear the Fan
  8. Buzz: Jeb Bush genuinely undecided and genuinely considering 2016 presidential run

    State Roundup

    Political junkies in Florida don't have to worry about the drama ending Nov. 4, because once the governor's race wraps up, another huge political question emerges: Will Jeb run in 2016?

    Former Gov. Jeb Bush has said he will make up his mind by year's end and most signs suggest he is both genuinely undecided and genuinely considering it. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio appears more likely to run, though Bush's candidacy would seriously crimp his fundraising and political network....

    This video rame grab made available by CBS 4, shows a fan at the bottom of the lectern near Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist in Davie, Fla., Wednesday Oct. 15, 2014. The fan caused a delay in the gubernatorial debate between Crist and Governor Rick Scott, after the Scott campaign considered the fan a violation of the rules prohibiting the use of electronic devices. (AP Photo/CBS 4, Pool) MH102
  9. Michelle Obama rallies for Charlie Crist in Orlando, but no sign of president

    State Roundup

    ORLANDO — President Barack Obama is increasingly unpopular among Floridians, but that did not stop Charlie Crist from happily campaigning alongside first lady Michelle Obama on Friday to boost his bid to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

    "There's a reason why Charlie is known as the people's governor here in Florida," Mrs. Obama told the predominantly black and Hispanic crowd of about 700 people inside a park gymnasium. "It's because Charlie gets it."...

     Audience member cheered as First Lady Michelle Obama gave a supporting speech for gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during his rally of over over 700 People inside of Barnett Park Gymnasium Friday afternoon October 17, 2014. Charlie Crist's running mate Annette Taddeo-Goldstein gave a speech followed by Charlie Crist.
  10. Michelle Obama rallies voters for Charlie Crist in Orlando


    ORLANDO -- Charlie Crist got a boost from the White House's more popular resident Friday, with first lady Michelle Obama swinging through Orlando to rally voters and help the one-time governor in his bid to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

    "There's a reason why Charlie is known as the people's governor here in Florida," Obama told the predominantly black and Hispanic crowd assembled inside a city park gymnasium. "It's because Charlie gets it."...

    Charlie Crist greets first lady Michelle Obama at a rally in the Barnett Park gymnasium in Orlando.
  11. Steve Schale: Team Charlie Crist turning out unlikely voters


    To: Crist Supporters, Journalists, Assorted Pundits, the Spambots that hit my blog, the Bipartisan members of Kevin is Evil Fantasy Nascar League, and the people in Rick Scottworld who will be asked to respond to this memo, namely Tim and Ryan.

    From: Steve Schale

    Date: October 17, 2014

    Yesterday, my memo writing counterpart at the Scott campaign, Tim Saler, issued a new piece in the wake of #FangateGoneGlobal regarding the state of the 2014 election from his perspective. While it would be easier for Tim and I to hammer this out over beers at Tucker Dukes in Tallahassee, I do admire both the certainty from which he writes his memos about the outcome of the election, as well as the volume....

  12. GOP has 13 point lead in mail-in votes so far


    Marc Caputo crunches the numbers:

    Absentee ballots are still pouring in, with 778,876 cast of this morning. As yesterday, Republicans still hold the lead in returns over Democrats, 48-35 percent.

    Here's a look at the top counties where ballots have been counted by party:
     Ballots cast      Party     County     % of total
          37,601     REP     PIN     43%
          32,407     REP     LEE     55%
          31,867     DEM     PIN     37%
          28,281     REP     DAD     47%
          22,126     DEM     DAD     36%
          18,812     REP     HIL     42%
          17,315     DEM     HIL     39%
          16,353     DEM     ORA     42%
          15,792     REP     ORA     41%
          14,332     REP     BRE     54%
          14,146     DEM     LEE     24%
          14,119     REP     DUV     55%
          14,087     REP     VOL     48%
          14,058     NPA     PIN     16%
          13,971     REP     CLL     63%...

  13. Rick Scott campaign: Charlie Crist should be sweating bullets over early vote


    The Rick Scott campaign apparently wants to talk about something besides portable fans:

    FROM:             Tim Saler, Deputy Campaign Manager
    TO:                 Campaign Supporters
    DATE:             October 16, 2014
    SUBJECT:       152,387 People...

  14. Nate Silver's 538 weighs in on Crist v Scott


    FiveThirtyEight, looks at the Fla governor's race polls, and sees two very unpopular candidates and Charlie Crist with the slight edge:

    #... It’s arguably the same reason he fell behind in the first place: money. ... In other words, the state tilted slightly more towards Crist when the two candidates were on relatively equal financial footing...."...

  15. FanGate! Rick Scott nearly refuses to debate because of Charlie Crist's fan


    DAVIE – In what had to be the strangest start of a gubernatorial debate, Gov. Rick Scott nearly  refused to participate because Democrat Charlie Crist insisted on a fan to keep him cool.

    The Republican governor finally emerged six minutes late as flummoxed moderators struggled to figure out what to do with only a bemused Crist standing on stage at Broward College.

    “Are we really going debate about a fan or are we going to talk about education, the environment and the future of our state?” asked Crist....