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And So It Begins

Maddox's Day

As a member of the minority party, I'm used to being lonely.

So I realize I may be alone in saying that I've never really been a Scott Maddox fan. His charisma is real but it never won me over. Maybe I knew too much about the back-room deals and rumors that surrounded him for years.

Having said that, my opinion of Maddox grew greatly yesterday as word of his departure from the Governor's race spread. Maddox, for the first time that I can remember, put winning ahead of ego.

I know doubters will say Maddox only dropped out when there was no way he could prosper on his own. Maybe. But let's not obscure his actions with assumptions about his motives. Maddox did the right thing.

There's little doubt that leaders and pundits alike will begin to mention Maddox as a candidate for Attorney General or Lt. Governor. But I think that's a mistake.

Scott has a vital role to play. As a young, energetic leader Scott can rally a crowd and motivate progressive voters like few others in our Party. He should embrace this role and bask in the credit he will earn for being a team player.

Not only that, by staying out of the race as a candidate, Maddox has chance to act selflessly - putting to rest perceptions that his actions as Chair of the Florida Democratic Party were just the opposite. Signing on with another candidate gives Maddox a chance to prove to cynical Democrats that he cares about a team victory more than a personal one.

And I know that opinion leaders in the Democratic Party are divided between Congressman Jim Davis and State Senator Rod Smith. The truth is that both have a great deal to offer our party and both deserve credit for having the courage it takes to run for Governor.

Davis is leaving well paying, highly prestigious elected office that he could hold forever. Smith, although he is term-limited in the Senate, could go home to Alachua and make millions as a private lawyer. Instead, both are committed to helping Florida and the Democratic Party make a comeback.

It's just one person's opinion, but I think Maddox's departure and endorsement of Davis makes the road to the nomination very hard for Rod Smith. If any of Maddox's strong support in South Florida (and with the Party's progressive leaders) transfers to Davis, Smith is in for a tough fight.

When Boca Raton Congressman Robert Wexler came to Davis's campaign with Maddox yesterday, the beginning of the next phase of the race started poorly for Smith.

Some people will say that Central Florida moderate and dark horse Bill McBride bested the establishment Janet Reno in 2002. But the biggest problem for Smith's chances is that, at least in the Primary, Jim Davis is the Central Florida moderate. Worst of all, Davis could become, with Maddox's help, the Central Florida moderate with South Florida backing.

In Democratic Primary politics, that's a perfect storm.

I'm not saying that Senator Smith should drop out. It's far too early for that. But I am sure someone in Smith's camp already sees that delivering Maddox's base to Davis, who is already leading, is a real problem.

Maybe the most interesting thing to watch over the next few weeks and months in this Primary battle is whether Smith can take a lesson from Maddox - not in getting out but in being a team player.

If Smith begins to see that he'll have to destroy Davis to be the nominee, his choices will be interesting. It's possible to run an aggressive, proud campaign without scorching the earth. Doing so would allow Smith to reap Maddox-esque admiration and respect.

And if fortunes turn in Smith's favor and Davis finds himself behind, he'll have to make a similar decision and have the same opportunity.

Maddox impressed me the other day. I really hope that either Smith or Davis are as impressive when it's their turn to make a difficult decision.

[Note: Cross Posted at "FLA Politics".]


10/10/2005 3:00 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

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10/10/2005 7:22 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Despite Maddox's appeal with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, there are a LOT of party faithful - from the far left and moderate Dems too - who are VERY angry with Maddox and his handling of FDP operations and finances.

Maddox and his friends made a LOT of money off the FDP and we're still trying to fix his mess. Is this the kind of friend that Jim Davis really wants?

I question the wisdom of the Davis campaign to so quickly welcome someone who almost put the FDP out of business. The Smith campaign may be worried... but then again, this may have been the best gift Maddox could have given them.



10/10/2005 11:13 AM, by Blogger DerekTNG

Good points.



10/10/2005 12:02 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

I think you've overstated Maddox's pull in his endorsement of Davis. He got out because he finally realized he had no shot, not for party unity.

Smith will benefit from Maddox getting out because he can now consolidate the North Florida vote, which is vital in a Dem primary bc these voters vote in higher percentages than the Central and South Florida vote.

As someone who lives in South Florida I can tell you that people don't know either Davis or Smith from Adam. This race will be tight. At least now, our nominee will get a majority vote on election night (as long as no one else gets in).



10/10/2005 2:21 PM, by Blogger Blog de León

I have to admit to something: I've wanted to like Maddox for years. But I can't. There's just something about him that ain't right.

Was anybody suprised at the mismanagement of the Democratic Party? I won't bother to go into the rumors from his Tallahassee days, but I do want to put this little bit in the mix.

A trustworthy friend who works in a Tallahassee restaurant says that Maddox is a consistently bad tipper. I mean insultingly bad -- like leaving a penny on a $150 bill.



10/10/2005 2:26 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

The truth is that the party was in far better shape -- financially and operationally -- when Maddox left than when he came in ... bad headlines about staffing mistakes notwithstanding.
Having seen both Smith and Davis in action, I am very disappointed that party leadership hamstrung one of the smartest strongest Democratic candidates I've seen anywhere.



10/10/2005 6:31 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

I agree this helps Smith more. This should be a good race and give the party some excitement, and the victor will have to earn it.

Maddox was basically in the way. Now that he's out, we can focus on the horrible job the Rs have done running this state.

Maddox turned off more people than you think. It was well known he was just building a campaign for gov while letting the party pay for it for the past two years.



10/10/2005 8:47 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

This election will not be decided in north florida.

They may vote in higher percentages (if that's even true) but 70% of 10 is still half of 20% of 70. And the votes are in south fla. This ain't the electoral college - if it were Rod might have a shot.

But Tampa + Broward = nominee.



10/11/2005 10:31 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

It should be either:

Hillsborough + Broward = Nominee


Tampa + Ft. Lauderdale = Nominee

or more accurately

Tampa/St. Pete + Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach = Nominee



10/12/2005 7:14 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

I normally agree with Derek Newton's take on things, but today's news reveals that he's completely wrong about Maddox. Maddox's motivations for dropping out were FAR from "selfless," as demonstrated by today's revelations that he raised just $78,000 in the last quarter. Maddox didn't drop out to help the party. He dropped out because HE HAD TO.

I credit Maddox for cutting the best deal possible with Davis before his exit. He remains a very shrewd politician who can turn lemons into lemonade for himself.



10/12/2005 7:17 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

North Florida is much more important in Dem primary than some of you may think. These voters do vote in higher percentages than the rest of the state in the primary. And, their media markets are the cheapest. Therefore, the ads that are run will begin in these markets. If Smith can lock this down now without Maddox in the race, he'll be in solid position.

Tampa will go to Davis. But Orlando/East Central Florida will be just as important as South Florida in this race.

The problem for both candidates will be raising enough $$$$ to effectively communicate a message to central and south FL. Should be fun.



10/12/2005 7:52 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

East Central Florida and Orlando may be important but S. Florida has about three times as many voters.

Get this - delegate allocations for the State Convention (based on Democratic VOTES in these counties)

Broward - 133
Dade - 115
Palm Beach - 94
Hillsborough - 70
Pinellas - 68
Orange - 59
Volusia - 41
Alachua - 27

Guess where this primary will be won?



10/15/2005 6:37 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

The comment stating that the FDP's finances were worse when Maddox arrived than when he left is blatantly false.

When Maddox became chair, he faced debt from the 2002 campaign. This is common.

When Maddox left, he left debt from the 2004 campaign, along with unpaid taxes and a lien from the IRS.

Anyone who says that Maddox left the party in better shape than when he was elected is either badly misinformed or just lying.



10/17/2005 6:56 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

What? Lying and misinformation ... in politics?
Stop the presses ...



10/19/2005 10:39 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

The endorsement by Scott Maddox of Jim Davis is well down the list compared to Bob Graham's endorsement of Jim Davis or Wexler's or Wasserman-Schultz's for that mater. The fact is that a lot of people think Maddox is a egocentric windbag. In my opinion, he is simply okay. Rod Smith has his fans too (several county sheriffs, Butterworth, the women in the Senate). However, both Davis and Smith will likely lose to either Crist or Gallagher unless they team up. The sad part is that in politics the most obvious is often the most overlooked. The combination of the two is probably the only hope the Dems. have of regaining the top spot in Tallahassee.



10/20/2005 10:30 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

The Republicans began to recognize the importance of N. Fla. Dems. in the late 80's early 90's. In fact West and NE Fla. are now power bases for Reps. Dems. need to learn from their mistakes and, at a minimum, court those voters. They're registered Dems., which is a start, but you don't see enough outreach to those areas from Dems.



10/22/2005 2:15 PM, by Blogger Lepus Americanus

Though Maddox dropping out of the race will strenthen Rod Smith's hand in North Florida, the democtatic nomination is determined by the tri-couties in the south east (Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach) and Hillsborough. This will not be the case in the state wide election for govenor, in which the heavily republican counties have greater clout.



10/26/2005 9:39 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

I agree with the previous poster regarding Davis's prior endorsements. Graham is still the eminence grise of Florida Democratic politics. .. it's one of the few endorsements that might actually reflect at the polls. Wexler, Wasserman-Schulz and the other heavy hitters who are endorsing him will help put the feet on the street and the money in the bank.

Maddox, at this point, is really irrelevant IF Smith and Davis have the guts and the smarts to team up. I really wish they would, though I'm not holding my breath. Smith could be so appealing as a LG candidate to counter Crist's law-and-order emphasis (assuming Crist gets the nomination.)

But if they decide to join forces, they need to do it sooner rather than later. The longer they wait, the more money is wasted on an expensive and damaging primary - Smith has enough of a base to put a bruising on Davis, even if he really doesn't have a shot at the nomination.

Wouldn't it be great to have a nominee that can work on winning the hearts of undecided voters while Crist and Gallagher beat each other up and struggle to nail down the ultra-right wing?



10/29/2005 2:19 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

I am very concerned that the Smith campaign is going to piss this thing away because his team is too busy playing in percentages. Percentages don't win elections, votes do. I have worked campaigns where a district has a precinct of almost 2000 voters and also a precinct of 5. The approach of the Smith campaign is to see these two precincts as equal and common sense should tell everyone that this is not the case.

It's important that Dems understand what is behind this whole North Florida strategy. It is a result of our electeds wanted to please their fathers. Here comes the psycho-babble. Many elected Dems remember when the blue collar voters turned on our party. These traditional Democrats left us, and a lot of our elected officials are more concerned with winning back their approval than with winning elections. I say the hell with 'em. Considering the population growth in Central Florida, Democrats would do better focusing on the growing exurbian areas of Central Florida than wasting time in these shrinking North Florida areas.

I think Smith is the strongest candidate for Governor. I personally have spoken with Republicans that are scared of Smith as a candidate. I hope that the Smith campaign wakes up before it's too late.

Go where the votes are and stop wasting time with percentages!!!



11/03/2005 2:45 PM, by Blogger Jim

Great site - good info on our state. Thanks for steering me. I'll bookmark it.



8/22/2006 7:29 AM, by Anonymous robby

He has a charisma, I agree. But there is something in his attitude that seems to act as a rejection. I don’t know what, but it keeps me from being impressed by him.



1/21/2007 12:16 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Everyone has just GOT to see what is going on in the Town of Surfside. Check out the Corruption in Surfside blog. Town officials have been busy at their personal agendas: Deleting ethics laws, closing important town facilities, greasing the zoning variance process, forcing out honest town employees so political hacks can be put into jobs instead, its amazing what they are getting away with. Town of Surfside, Florida, the new example of how a local government should NOT ever be. Government for the special interests, by the special interests, of the special interests.



1/17/2008 10:30 PM, by Anonymous SurfsideSixers

Surfside Florida town government has been overcome and consumed by special interests. Referendums? Democracy? Ethics? NAH not after March 2006 now its only about one factor $$$$$$$$$$$$



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