NEWS FROM THE FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY
For Immediate Release: January 8th, 2011
Rod Smith Elected Chairman Of The Florida Democratic Party
Rod Smith of Alachua was selected Saturday to lead the Florida Democratic Party as state Chairman during an enthusiastic gathering in Orlando of party leaders, Democratic elected officials and activists from throughout Florida.
Smith, a former state senator and North Florida prosecutor, as well as the 2010 running mate of Democratic gubernatorial contender Alex Sink, succeeds Karen Thurman of Dunnellon as Party Chairman. Thurman retired after nearly six years at the party.
After accepting nominations to lead the party, Smith pledged to focus on building the grassroots of the party and to step up efforts to raise funds and recruit Democratic candidates for public offices.
“I promise you that I’m going to do my dead-level best to ensure that two years from now we are celebrating the turnaround of the Democratic Party,” Smith said at meeting of state Democratic Executive Committee members and others, which was held near Orlando.
“I don’t want anybody dispirited or discouraged,” Smith said. “We have an enormous opportunity to begin the turnaround. Today is the end of our period of mourning.”
Smith identified three major priorities for the state party: the reelections of President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson in 2012, and ensuring that the legislative task of redrawing new congressional and legislative districts yields fair districts that represent the people’s will and the diversity of Florida.
Recruitment young candidates and finding “the next generation of Democrats and Democratic candidates” also will be a priority of Smith’s tenure, he said Saturday, adding that he has asked Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum to assist him in that endeavor.
Several statewide Democratic contenders on the 2010 general election ballot addressed the crowd, including Alex Sink who described Rod Smith as the ideal choice to head the party in preparation for the crucial 2012 elections.
“We all know what a fighter Rod Smith is and we are in for the fight of our lives,” said Sink. “We will bring new people and more energy to this party to make sure that we are ready two years from now.”
Smith was accompanied Saturday by his wife, DeeDee Smith. Smith served as State Senator from North Florida from 2000 to 2006. He also is a former State Attorney from Gainesville, and he was a Democratic gubernatorial contender in 2006.