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. Patrick Kennedy raising money to defeat Dennis Ross


    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
  2. Fla Insider Poll shows growing doubts Charlie Crist will beat Rick Scott


    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....

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


    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

    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.

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

    State Roundup


    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....

    Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Iraq’s new prime minister says foreign ground troops are neither necessary nor wanted in his country’s fight against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) ZHM101
  5. 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....

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


    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."...

  7. New GOP ad wraps Obamacare around Charlie Crist


    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.

  8. Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics


    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....

  9. 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."...

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


    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."...

  11. Political Connections Sun: State Rep says GOP legislators could work w Gov. Crist


    State Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, appears Sunday on Political Connections on Bay News 9, talking about the prospects for Medicaid expansion in the legislature, the hot button issues in her bellwether state house district formerly represented by Republican Mike Fasano, and whether Charlie Crist can get anything done if elected governor.

    Political Connections airs every Sunday on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.. Here's a clip...

  12. Winner and loser of the week in Fla politics


    Winner of the week

    Bill Clinton. His stumping for Charlie Crist in Miami on Friday served as a reminder that there probably is no more popular national Democrat in Florida and no other figure that every Florida Democrat would love to campaign alongside. Sorry, President Barack Obama.

    Loser of the week

    Steve Southerland. A fundraising invite advising people to "leave the misses at home"? Hey congressman Southerland, the 19th century called. It can use your helping tamping down that pesky new suffrage movement....

  13. Pam Bondi says opposition to gay marriage not personal vendetta

    State Roundup

    Just because Attorney General Pam Bondi has aggressively fought in court against opponents of Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, don't assume it has anything to do with her own views.

    "I have many, many gay friends," the Tampa Republican said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. She noted that she took pictures during the baptism of a gay friend's adopted daughter....

  14. Mason-Dixon Florida Poll: Rick Scott 43%, Charlie Crist 41%


    A newly released Mason-Dixon poll conducted on behalf of Telemundo (hosting the first gubernatorial debate Oct. 10) and Leadership Florida/Florida Press Association (hosting a debate Oct. 15) shows Gov. Rick Scott leading Charlie Crist 43 percent to 41 percent, within the magin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wylie receives 4 percent.

    The survey of 625 likely voters was conducted Sept. 2-4, and Mason-Dixon cautioned that its sample reflects current voter registration in Florida (41 percent Democrat, 37 percent Republican, 21 percent other), and "does not assume a higher or lower turnout by either political party." Considering the Republican turnout is consistently at least 4 percentage points higher than Democrats in off-year elections, it's reasonable to assume Scott would have a higher lead if the sample reflected the likely voter turnout....

  15. New GOP anti-Charlie Crist ad forgets when he was governor


    The Republican Party of Florida for reasons we can't understand has decided not to release anything about many of their TV ads on behalf of Charlie Crist,or even announce new ads. Here's the latest that's running in every market except Miami. The spot focuses on how the economy cratered after Charlie Crist became governor in 2006, though he actually did not become governor until 2007. "The only job Charlie Crist cares about is his own," says the narrator, suggesting Crist is running because he needs a job....