Sunday, July 30, 2006

FLORIDA DIGEST July 30, 2006


Rod Smith: Happy to talk - at length - about his causes.
By JENNIFER LIBERTO, Times Staff Writer
Published July 30, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - On the last Friday in April, a Democratic senator from a townof 6,000 steered the Republican-controlled Florida Senate toward a meltdown.

On the day the Senate killed a Gov. Jeb Bush education priority, Sen. RodSmith of Alachua didn't sit much. He walked the Senate's blue carpet,grabbing arms to whisper. The few times he sank into his navy leather chair,he rocked back and forth, staring blankly between bursts of furiousscribbling on a legal pad.

Smith had assembled a fragile coalition of Republicans to help his partyblock a GOP effort to weaken the state's limits on class size.But to make it all work, Smith needed to convince his colleagues to keepquiet and not harp on the controversial class-size issue.

Hard to do for Senate Democrats. Nearly impossible for Smith.


Jim Davis: Earnest and detailed, if not very flashy
By ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer
Published July 30, 2006

The congresswoman from South Florida trembled at the lectern, her defiant words carried on national television on Palm Sunday.

"Where will we stop if we allow this to go forward?" she asked. "Today it'll be Terri Schiavo; tomorrow it'll be my brother."

Slowly, the camera pulled back. A thin, gray-haired man stood in the rear of the conference room, head cocked to the side, eyes squinting.

He stepped forward. Jim Davis had something to say.

But before he could speak, the moment disappeared. Another congressman beat him to the microphone. Davis retreated and, like a proud father, patted Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the back.

That scene, captured on C-SPAN as Schiavo's right-to-die saga concluded last year, exemplifies Davis' 17 years in politics.