Adam C. Smith, Times Political Editor

Adam C. Smith

Political editor since 2001, Adam Smith was named the best political writer in Florida by washingtonpost.com 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

Email: asmith@tampabay.com

Blog: The Buzz

Twitter: @AdamSmithTimes

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  1. Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

    Blog

    Winners of the week

    Gwen Graham and Patrick Murphy. For Florida Democrats, one positive side of having no statewide officeholder in Tallahassee is that it's easier to look like a rising star. That's why a woman not even elected to office yet — Graham — and a one-term South Florida congressman — Murphy — would be mentioned by a fair number of our astute Florida Insiders as leading statewide contenders in 2016 or 2018....

  2. Florida Insider Poll: Scott to trump Crist; medical marijuana will pass

    State Roundup

    The race between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist for Florida governor has long been seen as a toss-up, and recent polls bolster the perception of a campaign that could go either way.

    But conventional wisdom among Florida's political elite has shifted decidedly in Gov. Scott's favor, the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll shows.

    When we surveyed more than 130 of Florida's savviest political hands seven weeks ago, a slight majority predicted that Scott would beat Crist. This week, two-thirds of our Florida Insiders — including 38 percent of the Democrats — said they expect Scott to beat former Gov. Crist....

    Gwen Graham, daughter of former Florida Senator Bob Graham is running for Congress. Photo from Gwen Graham for U. S. Congress website.
  3. The brand of Duke Energy is poison in Tampa Bay

    Blog

    That's why legislative candidates are falling over themselves to distance themselves from the utility and why the Democratic group NextGenClimate sent this flier against Rick Scott, following up on TV ads with a similar anti-Scott/anti-Duke message.

    This flier went to a Republican in Pinellas
  4. Political Connections Sun: Sheriff Judd predicts pot busts will soar if med marijuana passes

    Blog

    Ben Pollara, director of the United for Care group campaigning to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, appears with Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd Sunday to debate the pros and cons of Amendment 2 on Political Connections on Bay News 9. Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9 and Tampa Bay and News 13 in the Orlando area. Here's a clip.

     

  5. Fla Insider Poll: Adam Putnam overwhelmingly favored as next GOP gov nominee

    Blog

    Florida Republicans have a deep and wide bench of candidates for top statewide offices, but according to 140 of the state's most plugged in political players the next Republican nominee for governor is almost a foregone conclusion.

    Take a bow, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

    Even with lots of potentially strong Republican contenders in the mix, more than two thirds of those participaing in the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider poll predicted Putnam, the red-headed 40-year-old from Bartow, will be the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2018. None of the other most popular choices - Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio - cracked 10 percent....

  6. Patrick Kennedy raising money to defeat Dennis Ross

    Blog

    Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island is headlining a fundraiser for Alan Cohn, the Democrat running against Republican U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland. The reception is at the Tampa hom of David and Sara Scher.

     

    The fundraising invite
  7. Fla Insider Poll shows growing doubts Charlie Crist will beat Rick Scott

    Blog

    The race between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist for Florida governor has long been seen as a toss-up, and recent polls bolster that perception of a campaign that could go either way.

    But conventional wisdom among Florida's political elite has shifted decidedly in Gov. Scott's favor, the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll shows.

    When we surveyed more than 130 of Florida's savviest political hands seven weeks ago, a slight majority predicted Scott would beat Crist. This week, two thirds of our Florida Insiders - including 38 percent of the Democrats participating - said they expect Scott to beat former Gov. Crist....

  8. Can you beat a computer model - or David Custin - handicapping Fla politics?

    Blog

    From Dara Kam and the News Service of Florida: In a new twist on man vs. machine, more than a dozen Florida campaign whizzes are matching wits against a computer program, taking shots at predicting the outcome of state legislative races for charity.

    Tallahassee lobbyist and Republican consultant Brecht Heuchan hand-picked a bipartisan crew to play what he's dubbed "DecisionLink 2014 Man vs. Machine." Participants get two "ballots" --- an early guess and one closer to the election --- and a point for each correct selection.

    The winner's bounty will go toward a charity chosen by one of the 16 consultants who plunked down $100 to participate in the contest against DecisionLink, a program that's the brainchild of Heuchan. He is matching the participants' entry fees, meaning a $3,200 pay-off for the winners' charity.

    Starting this week, Heuchan is letting the public in on the picks. He wants Capitol insiders, social scientists and campaign staff to cast their votes --- for free --- in House and Senate races. Heuchan plans to get corporate sponsors to bankroll the public ballots, which will cost $1 each to underwrite. Anyone who thinks they're savvy enough to beat Heuchan's complicated computer algorithm --- or the campaign gurus --- can enter the contest at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ManvsMachine.

    So far, Miami-based lobbyist and consultant David Custin has proved himself to be the cream of the crème de la crème --- thanks to a Jacksonville Republican House race won by two votes. Custin edged out Marc Reichelderfer, who was consulting for the losing House District 15 candidate's campaign, by a single point.

    The grand winner will be selected based on results from the primary and the general-election races, and since DecisionLink will only come into play after the November election, there's no way the computer can be the ultimate winner.

    But raging against the machine --- and each other --- has spiked the competitiveness in an already shark-like bunch.

    Steve Vancore, a Democratic consultant and pollster who landed in third place after the primary, called the challenge a "John Henry kind of moment" for the political elite.

    "Sure I'm competing against a machine," Vancore said. "But we're all competitive. So you have 16 John Henrys competing, against the machine but they're all looking down the aisle to see how the other guy's doing. And it's a lot of fun."

    Heuchan dreamed up the experiment in part as a way to promote and test DecisionLink, which had a 94 percent accuracy rate in predicting winners but which, until now, Heuchan had only used to analyze races after elections were already completed.

    "I wanted to make the model compete against some of the state’s best political consultants and the public to see how it would stack up, but the game had to have a better, higher purpose than just a bunch of numbers and predictions," he said.

    Heuchan's DecisionLink uses a formula based on a variety of characteristics --- such as the amount of money a candidate has raised, party affiliation, a district's past performance and voter registration --- to predict the percentage that a candidate will win a race.

    Computers, software and data are now essential tools for winning campaigns. But the human factor can't be discounted, the consultants agreed.

    "I don't think a machine will be able to handle everything from A to Z unless they create a Data, like from Star Trek," said Custin, who's picked Kristi House, which provides services for sexually abused children, as his charity. "At that point, I'll stick to lobbying instead of campaigns."

    DecisionLink can't pick up nuances in a race that can lead to upsets, Reichelderfer said.

    "It's very easy for any one of us to make decisions like a computer regarding cash on hand, party registration in the district, to look at the data and predict a pretty high percentage of victory just based on the data. But a human has the intangibles. The relationships in the district, what team leaders are supporting particular candidates in certain areas, and what local issues are driving turnout. All of those are going to factor into the equation," said Reichelderfer, whose charity is Tree House Tallahassee.

    Regardless of the outcome, the game has injected an aura of amity for participants during what can be a blistering campaign season.

    "This is absolutely needed. Politicians rip each others' faces off all the time but the fact is we all have a bit of a camaraderie," said Vancore, whose win could create more competition in future Man vs. Machine contests. He's picked Florida State University's Masters in Applied American Political and Policy student scholarships as his charity. "There's a lot of mutual respect across party lines in this group. That's an unexpected bonus."

    Democratic consultant Steve Schale, who's playing for the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, said he wound up near the bottom of the pack after the primary.

    "I had a couple of races where I was thinking with my heart and not with my brain. So I'm going to have be more careful in the general election," Schale said.

    Schale pointed out that he cut his teeth in the political world in the late 1990s, long before the data-driven focus of current campaigns.

    "Politics for a long time was a lot more art than it was science. These days it's a lot more science than it is art. For some of us old guys, it's a difficult transition at times," he said.
    ...

  9. In Tampa, Obama rules out ground troops vs. ISIS

    State Roundup

    TAMPA

    President Barack Obama on Wednesday at MacDill Air Force Base promised a gymnasium packed with men and women in camouflage that America and its allies will destroy Islamic terrorists in Iraq and Syria — but it won't require another ground war in Iraq.

    "Whether in Iraq or in Syria, these terrorists will learn the same thing that the leaders of al-Qaida already know: We mean what we say. Our reach is long. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven. We will find you eventually," Obama said, drawing cheers from roughly 1,200 uniformed men and women....

    The Obama motorcade heads down Tampa's S Dale Mabry Highway in the rain Wednesday morning on its way to MacDill Air Force Base. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
  10. Florida governor's race on pace to be costliest, closest this year

    State Roundup

    The race for Florida governor is shaping up to be one of the closest and costliest in the nation this year, as the Washington money pours in.

    The Democratic Governors Association just gave Charlie Crist another $1.5 million, bringing the total it has invested in the Florida governor's race to about $5.6 million. The breakdown: $3.5 million for Charlie Crist for Florida, $1.15 million for the Florida Democratic Party and nearly $1 million to a political committee called Florida For All....

  11. New Crist ad says Scott sacrificed teachers to help corporations

    Blog

    Charlie Crist's latest TV ad takes aim again at Rick Scott's education budget cuts at the start of the Scott administration's term:

    "They don't fly on private jets or float on fancy yachts, but the job Florida teachers do couldn't be more valuable. And when Rick Scott cut education by over a billion dollars thousands of them lost their jobs. Class sizes went up. Our kids paid the price. Why'd he do it? To pay for millions in handouts to big corporations."...

  12. New GOP ad wraps Obamacare around Charlie Crist

    Blog

    Sorry for the poor quality of this video, but the state GOP won't publicly release many of its ads in the governor's race, so we had to make do. The latest spot highlights the positives things Charlie Crist has had to say about the Affordable Care Act.

  13. Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

    Blog

    Winner of the week

    Marco Rubio. The staunch hawkishness of Florida's Republican U.S. senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate no longer looks out of step with public opinion amid the high-profile terrorism of ISIS. Rubio has stepped up his attacks on President Barack Obama's foreign policy while another leading 2016 Republican contender — Rand Paul — lately has back-stepped on his isolationism....

  14. David Straz has yet to take stage for Charlie Crist campaign

    State Roundup

    Back in April, the Charlie Crist campaign summoned Tampa Bay area reporters to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts to hear "important news" from Crist. Reporters and local dignitaries and Democratic activists turned out, and eventually Crist strolled up accompanied by David Straz, the investor and philanthropist, who endorsed Crist and vowed to "support him in a big way."...

  15. Did Charlie Crist tick off a major donor over Cuba?

    Blog

    The Charlie Crist campaign back in April summoned Tampa Bay reporters to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts to hear "important news" from Crist. Reporters and local dignitaries and Democratic activists turned out, and eventually Crist strolled up accompanied by David Straz, one of Tampa Bay's leading businessmen and philanthropists, who endorsed Crist and vowed "to support him in a big way."...