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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. Jeb Bush praises Indiana law under attack as anti-gay, and pro-discrimination

    Blog

    On Hugh Hewitt's radio show today, Jeb Bush stood behind Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been attacked by critics - including corporate leaders in Indiana -- for potentially allowing discrimination. Here's an except of Bush's interview:...

  2. Appeals court weighs workers comp law

    Blog

    From our friends at News Service of Florida:

    A South Florida appeals court Monday heard arguments in a challenge to the constitutionality of the state's workers-compensation insurance system --- as two other closely watched challenges also await rulings at the Florida Supreme Court.

    The 3rd District Court of Appeal took up a case in which a Miami-Dade County circuit judge ruled last year that a key underpinning of workers-compensation laws was unconstitutional. That underpinning involves cases being handled through the workers-compensation insurance system instead of through civil lawsuits.

    The workers-compensation system is designed as a sort of tradeoff: Workers are supposed to receive benefits for on-the-job injuries while not going through potentially costly and time-consuming lawsuits. But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Cueto ruled in August that the workers-compensation law preventing cases from going to civil trial --- known legally as "exclusivity" --- was unconstitutional, at least in part because of legislative changes in 2003 that reduced benefits.

    "I find that the Florida Workers' Compensation Act, as amended effective October 1, 2003, does not provide a reasonable alternative to the tort (civil) remedy it supplanted,'' Cueto wrote. "It therefore cannot be the exclusive remedy."

    During Monday's hearing, state Chief Deputy Solicitor General Adam Tanenbaum argued primarily that Cueto's ruling should be overturned for procedural reasons. The case initially involved Julio Cortes, who alleged he was injured while working for Velda Farms.

    The constitutional issue was later dismissed from the Cortes dispute, but the challenge continued with the involvement of two groups that had intervened in the case --- Florida Workers' Advocates and Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group --- and Elsa Padgett, an injured Miami-Dade County worker.

    Tanenbaum told a three-judge panel of the appeals court that Cueto did not have the legal jurisdiction to decide the constitutional question after it was removed from the dispute involving Cortes and Velda Farms. He said there was no "cause of action and there was no adverse defendant" after that occurred.

    But Mark Zientz, an attorney for the groups and Padgett, argued that they had the right to continue with the challenge. He said, in part, that the case involves the "facial" invalidity of a workers-compensation law that takes away a right to trial by jury.

    It was not clear when the appeals court might decide the case. The three-judge panel questioned attorneys on both sides.

    The workers-compensation system is complex, with different types of benefits and limits --- and also has been the subject of major legislative battles, with businesses looking to hold down insurance costs and workers' groups seeking to maintain benefits.

    Lawmakers passed a major overhaul in 2003 that sought to reduce costs amid what business groups described as a crisis, but the changes have spawned a series of legal challenges. As an example, Cueto wrote in his August ruling that a type of benefit known as "permanent partial disability" was no longer provided after Oct. 1, 2003.

    While the appeals court ponders whether to uphold Cueto's ruling, two other major workers-compensation cases await rulings at the Florida Supreme Court.

    One of those cases, which stems from injuries suffered in 2009 by a South Florida man, Marvin Castellanos, during an altercation with another worker at their employer, challenges the constitutionality of limits on attorneys' fees in workers-compensation cases.

    The other case involves injuries suffered in 2009 by St. Petersburg firefighter Bradley Westphal and focuses on a two-year limit on what are known as "temporary total disability" benefits. Westphal received those benefits but then had a gap of several months before he could get permanent benefits.
     ...

  3. How Marco Rubio's big Miami announcement could make him look like a hypocrite and Jeb Bush like a principled conservative

    Blog

    As we reported the other day, Marco Rubio and his advisers are looking at announcing his candidacy for president on April 13 at Miami's Freedom Tower, which for years served as a processing center for Cuban refugeees. Though Miami-Dade College officials have alterted board members that a Rubio event may be held at the 1925 landmark, Rubio's advance team is still scouting a number of locations so nothing is final.

    Freedom Tower symbolically would highlight not only the promise and greatness of America - but also Rubio's history of inconsistency when it comes to fiscal conservatism.

    Rewind the clock to 2003....

  4. Bill Clinton 'preoccupied' with winning Florida — and worried about Jeb and Marco

    Blog

    A nugget from a New York Times piece about how Hillary Clinton's advisers are planning and hoping to use Bill Clinton in the campaign:

    ...In hopes of collaborating with Mr. Clinton better than in 2008 — if not controlling him outright — advisers to Mrs. Clinton are involving him more closely in early campaign planning, and they are discussing whether to deploy a senior aide to travel with him to keep him focused on his wife’s central message. The strategy would channel his myriad political talents, such as synthesizing polling data with ground operations in important states like Florida, which he is preoccupied with winning in 2016. Mr. Clinton views both former Gov. Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio as particular threats, given their strength in that state — their mutual home base — and their ability to reach out (in fluent Spanish) to Hispanic voters.......

  5. Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics

    Blog

    Winner of the week

    Pam Bondi. Just when it seemed her sometimes rocky performance as attorney general might leave her off everybody's list of potentially formidable U.S. Senate candidates in 2016, a PPP survey last week suggested Bondi would be the strongest GOP nominee.

    Loser of the week

    Alvin Brown. The Jacksonville mayor can win a second term, but he had hoped to do it without a runoff. Yes, he came in first in Tuesday's primary, but the last three mayors of Jacksonville won office after finishing in second place....

  6. LGBT anti-discrimination issue complicates Jacksonville mayor's race

    State Roundup

    Guess where you'll find the most gay Floridians? It's not Miami. The Florida metro area with the highest percentage of residents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is actually Jacksonville (4.3 percent), followed by Miami (4.2 percent) and Tampa Bay (4.1 percent), according to Gallup polling.

    So you might think it would be a no-brainer for the Jacksonville Democratic mayor to come out in favor of a proposed human rights ordinance, guaranteeing protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Nope. It's proven to be one of the biggest issues in the widely watched mayoral race, but neither Democratic incumbent Alvin Brown nor challenger Lenny Curry, the former state GOP chairman, have been willing to take a position beyond not-so-boldly declaring their opposition to discrimination in general....

    Attorney General Pam Bondi gives a victory speech to attendees of her party after winning her race on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 in Tampa at TPepin's Hospitality Centre.
  7. Rubio might announce campaign April 13 at Miami's Freedom Tower

    State Roundup

    Marco Rubio has reserved the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami for an undisclosed event April 13 in what appears to be a potential, if not likely, spot for Florida's junior senator to announce his candidacy for president.

    A Rubio adviser stressed nothing has been nailed down for any kind of announcement, but the timing makes sense: Likely presidential candidate Rand Paul is expected to make things official April 7, to be followed by a five-day, five-state announcement tour, so Rubio presumably would not want to share the spotlight during that period....

    Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addressed the CPAC gathering in National Harbor, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  8. April 13 presidential announcement day for Marco Rubio?

    Blog

    Marco Rubio has reserved the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami for an undisclosed event April 13, which appears to be a potential, if not likely, spot for Florida's junior senator to announce his candidacy for president.

    A Rubio adviser stressed nothing has been nailed down for any kind of announcement, but the timing makes sense: Likely presidential candidate Rand Paul is expected to make his candidacy official on April 7, followed by a five-day, five-state announcement tour, so Rubio presumably would not want to share the spotlight during that period....

  9. Struggling with gay rights in Jacksonville's mayor race

    Blog

    Guess where you'll find the most gay Floridians? Wrong, it's not Miami. The Florida metro area with the highest percentage of residents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) is actually Jacksonville (4.3 percent), followed by Miami (4.2 percent) and Tampa Bay (4.1 percent), according to Gallup polling.

    So you might think it would be a no brainer the Jacksonville Democratic mayor to come out in favor of a proposed human rights ordinance, guaranteeing protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Nope. It's proven to be one of the biggest issues in the widely watched mayoral race, but neither Democratic incumbent Alvin Brown nor challenger Lenny Curry, the former state GOP chairman, have been willing to take a position beyond not-so-boldly declaring their opposition to discrimination in general....

  10. Meet Scott Walker, Jeb's biggest threat, who is quietly making inroads in Fla

    Blog

    Scott Walker will likely be on the front page of Florida's biggest newspaper Sunday. From our profiile:

    ...Even in Florida, home turf of 2016 contenders Bush and Marco Rubio, Walker is making inroads. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Bush leading Walker among likely Republican voters 25 percent to 17 percent, followed by 15 percent for Rubio. Among Florida Republicans describing themselves as "very conservative," Bush actually trails Walker, 23 percent to 19 percent....

  11. Meet Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the conservative threat to Jeb Bush (w/video)

    State Roundup

    CONCORD, N.H. — Once dubbed America's most divisive governor, Wisconsin's Scott Walker may be the biggest threat to the presidential ambitions of Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.

    The understated everyman can fill a high school auditorium with guffaws and appreciative smiles merely by explaining how he buys shirts.

    "I go to that Kohl's rack that says it was $29.99 and now it's $19.99. And then I get the Sunday insert out with that little scratch-off, and I take it up to the cash register with my Kohl's credit card. And then I take the mailer that we get because we shop there a lot. And sometimes it's 15 percent or 20 percent off. And, if we're really lucky it's 30 percent off, right hon?" he said recently, momentarily turning away from the crowd of New Hampshire Republican activists toward his wife of 22 years....

    Union workers protest outside Concord High School where Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker attended a state Republican Party training and rally event March 14 in New Hampshire. Walker and the Legislature in 2011 significantly changed collective-bargaining laws for most public employees in Wisconsin.
  12. Rick Scott raised $710k in March and spent $410k

    Blog

    From our friends at News Service of Florida:

    Gov. Rick Scott's "Let's Get to Work" political committee has raised more than $700,000 this month as it has sought to highlight the governor's record, according to a list of contributions on the committee's website. The contributions, totaling $710,000, included $250,000 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC and the chamber's Florida Jobs PAC. Also, the Scott committee received $100,000 from the Voice of Florida Business Political Action Committee and Floridians for A Stronger Democracy, which are linked to Associated Industries of Florida. Other contributions included $25,000 from the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association PAC and $20,000 from The Villages development in Central Florida, according to the website. Let's Get to Work, which played a pivotal role in Scott's 2014 re-election campaign, started running television ads early this month touting the governor's record and his effort to cut taxes. The website also lists about $411,000 in advertising expenses in March....

  13. Charlie Crist endorsing Patrick Murphy for Senate

    Blog

    We hear Charlie Crist is likely to endorse Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, for U.S. Senate today. Crist had flirted with running for the seat now held by Republican Marco Rubio, but the former governor also is friends with Murphy and Murphy's father, Tom Murphy (whose firm, Coastal Construction paid Crist nearly $200,000 for consulting in 2012 and 2013) and Murphy's top political adviser, Eric Johnson....

  14. Fla poll: In Fla, only 37% want Jeb to run for prez and "very conservative" Republicans prefer Scott Walker

    Blog

    A new Florida robo poll by the Democratic-leaning Public Poloicy Polling finds a majority of voters don't think either Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush should run for president - and that Hillary Clinton leads all the GOP presidential contender in Florida, although just barely in the cases of Bush and Rubio.

    More from PPP:

    ...The lack of enthusiasm for either Bush or Rubio making a White House bid is at least partially a function of their not being terribly popular. 45% of voters approve of the job Rubio is doing as a Senator to 40% who disapprove. Bush's favorability numbers are similar with 45% giving him good marks to 42% with a negative opinion. Their numbers aren't bad but they aren't that impressive either....Bush leads the Republican field in the state with 25% to 17% for Walker, 15% for Rubio, 12% for Carson, 7% for Huckabee, 6% for Cruz, 4% each for Christie and Paul, and 3% for Perry. Since PPP last did a Presidential poll in Florida last June, Bush has dropped by 5 points while Walker has seen his support increase by 10. Also seeing their stock decline in Florida are Paul whose support is down from 11% in June, Cruz who was previously at 9%, and Christie who was previously at 8%. Florida makes yet another state where Christie is under water with GOP primary voters- 35% rate him favorably to 40% with a negative view.

    Even in his home state Bush lags a little bit with voters identifying themselves as 'very conservative,' trailing with 19% to Walker's 23%. But he has a commanding lead with moderates, getting 33% to only 10% for Walker, that's enough to help give him his overall advantage.
    ...

  15. Bob Buckhorn has 'zero' interest in running for Senate in '16

    Blog

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz yesterday floated a number of names of potential U.S. Senate candidates other than Patrick Murphy.

    Among those, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

    But Buckhorn, widely seen as a leading Democratic contender for governor in 2018, said Monday he has "zero" interest in running for Senate....