Bud Chiles, the son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles, dropped out of the race all because of a constitutional technicality.
Bud Chiles came of age watching his famous father make history walking the state from one end to the other. The younger Chiles had planned a similar walk of his own in his 2006 bid for the governor’s job. Instead, Bud Chiles will be on the sidelines, failing to notice a provision in the state Constitution requiring him to live continuously in the state for the last seven years.
Bud says, "If that is the test, then I failed that test."
Chiles returned from a public service stint two years ago.
"You know, I don’t think anybody would question that I’m a Floridian. I’ve spent most of my adult life here."
Chiles had polled significant double digits on name recognition alone. Betty Castor’s candidacy is considered unlikely, so his departure leaves a field of political dwarfs seeking the state’s top job on the Democratic side.
Political consultant Ron Sachs says the departure is creating a void.
"So for Jim Davis and Rod Smith, overnight their fortunes are better. For Republicans who want to be governor, they should be toasting this obscure provision in the Constitution because now they don’t have to run potentially against the son of a legend."
Chiles was unproven as a politician, but likely would have mobilized his father’s organization making him a contender for the nomination if not the governorship.
The previously unnoticed constitutional provision requiring the seven-year residency was added by voters in 1998.