Smith kicks off TV campaign with folksy spot

Published July 29, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Democratic candidate for governor Rod Smith aired his first television commercial Friday night. And it's different.

The 30-second commercial was expected to air in all media markets except Fort Myers and Pensacola. It'll give many voters their first introduction of any kind to a Democratic candidate for governor. It begins with Rod Smith, a state senator from Alachua, talking to advisors in a room with a TV advertisement paused on a screen behind him.

"This tape shows what I've been saying at the debates and forums, but I also want them to know about my family, how I grew up working next to my dad on the farm," Smith says.

And then a few seconds later, Smith "rolls the tape," which shows a typical Smith stump speech to an excited crowd, hitting on teacher salaries, insurance companies and paper records for ballot machines.

"It's a kind of Rod Smith, behind-the-scenes-as-a-candidate-running-for-governor type view," said Smith adviser Screven Watson.

Getting to TV first can make a lasting impression on undecided voters, said Bob Buckhorn a political analyst .That, in part, is how Republican candidate for governor Charlie Crist built his large lead in the polls over Tom Gallagher in the Republican primary. Crist had commercials out a month before Gallagher did.

Polling also suggests that a large number of likely Democratic primary voters, especially compared to their Republican counterparts, are undecided. The primary is Sept. 5. Early voting starts Aug. 21.

Smith's primary challenger, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa, has kept mum about when his television ads will start running. Davis spokesman Josh Earnest said running such a pricey ad campaign across the state, with more than five weeks to go until the primary, could be a sign of desperation.