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Former Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Tim Smith may seek state House seat

ElectionsDemocratic PartyU.S. House of RepresentativesJim NaugleAfrica

Tim Smith, a former Fort Lauderdale commissioner, may run for state House of Representatives.

“I’m giving it some thought, actually. I’m not ready to tell you anything,” he said. “I don’t know if you could consider my possible candidacy a real thing at this point. I’m just thinking about it.”

He’s clearly given it a lot of thought. “I’ve been out of politics for a decade, and I think I still have something to contribute somewhere.”

“I’m thinking it over, and I have some people looking at the district for me and see how it’s made up and if it’s plausible to run,” he said. “I don’t want to run unless I can win.”

One significant factor about the 94th district is demographics. Figures from the 2000 Census show 58 percent of the district’s residents are black, 36 percent white and 12 percent Hispanic. Its borders were drawn to increase the chances voters could elect a black representative.

The two leading candidates who’ve already announced their candidacies for the Democratic nomination, Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Bobby DuBose and Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Levoyd L. Williams, are black.

Smith, who is white, said it shouldn’t be seen as an African-American seat.

He said he has a history of working on behalf of Fort Lauderdale’s black residents when he was a commissioner and since.

“There’s 35 percent of the district that’s not African-American. My area that’s a little tough and needy and we need representation there too, as does Wilton Manors and Oakland Park and Plantation. I think somebody who could represent the whole thing, plus be especially attuned to the African-American portion of the district, which I think I am, I think I could be a real winner for that seat.

“I don’t think we should say that that seat is owned by someone because of the color of their skin. I think that’s wrong,” Smith said.

The district is so overwhelmingly Democratic -- Dems make up 68 percent of the registered voters, Republicans 13 percent, and independent/no party/third party voters are 19 percent – that the primary winner is virtually guaranteed a term in Tallahassee.

Smith said he’d “probably finance the campaign myself,” because he’s “one of those guys who doesn’t believe in collecting a lot of money from people.”

He said he thinks a race would require “some serious money,” in the range of $30,000 to $50,000.

He said he doesn’t have to get in the race soon to win. The beginning of spring is his deadline to decide. “I don’t know if I’d wit that long either, but that would be the drop dead date.”

Smith acknowledged that Democrats, who are in a significant minority in Tallahassee, don’t always fare well at the hands of Republicans who control the House.

“I think about Democrats running for the state House, and I think ‘why would they do that?’” he said. “I’m a good liberal Democrat, but I’m an also a law and order guy. I believe in safe neighborhoods. I’m a little bit like [Fort Lauderdale Mayor and former state Rep. Jack] Seiler is. I think I could talk to the other side. I don’t think they would consider me to be another Democrat that they would me out.”

He said that makes him an optimist. “I think the electorate is going to insist that politicians change our ways.”

Smith served two terms on the City Commission, from 1997 to 2003. He didn’t seek re-election so he could run for mayor in 2003. “I thought [then-Mayor] Jim Naugle was doing a despicable job and somebody should replace him, so I tried.”

Smith received 36 percent of the vote.

He’s currently a blogger on civic affairs, and said he’s written 600 articles in recent years. And he’s president of the 13th Street Alliance civic group, which encompasses the area of four civic and neighborhood associations: South Middle River, Middle River Terrace, Lake Ridge, and Poinsettia Heights.

Smith, 57, is self employed, with interests in real estate, a lodge and cabins in the Georgia mountains, and warehouses in Fort Lauderdale.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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ElectionsDemocratic PartyU.S. House of RepresentativesJim NaugleAfrica
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