Former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox quit the race and threw his support behind party front-runner Jim Davis.
Maddox says Democrats need to show unity if they’re to have any chance of winning.
Former Democratic state party chairman Scott Maddox seemed in good spirits as he talked with his parents after announcing he’s quitting the race for governor. He denies bad publicity last summer about financial troubles the party had on his watch played a roll, instead saying it’s all about unity.
Scott Maddox says, "It was a tough decision to make, especially since we have so many supporters across the state of Florida, and I’m blessed to have their support, but the bottom line is, for the Democratic Party to regain the governor’s mansion, we need to get behind one candidate."
That one candidate is Democratic front-runner and Congressman Jim Davis. Maddox is urging the only other Democrat in the race, State Senator Rod Smith, to also step aside.
It's been seven years since a Democrat held the governor’s office in Florida, and the party knows it will be a costly and up-hill battle to regain the seat. The Republican candidates are crushing the Democrats on the money front.
Attorney General Charlie Crist has raised more than $5 million; Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is at nearly five, about five times as much as either Davis or Smith.
Al Cardenas co-chairs Gallagher’s campaign. He’s also the former chairman of the state Republican Party, and says they can’t count the Democrats out yet.
Al says, "Republicans have to assume that they’ll get together and be a viable candidate next fall. At this point in time, they’re not. They’re taking baby steps. Their fundraising is not what it ought to be. Maybe Maddox’s action will really help it a little bit."
Maddox won’t say whether he’ll seek another office next fall, like maybe the lieutenant governor’s spot, but he didn’t rule it out.
State Senator Rod Smith’s campaign says he does not plan to step down and support Jim Davis, as Scott Maddox suggested.
Smith's campaign insists it’s still too early for Davis to be considered the front-runner, because Smith and Davis are tied in fundraising and polls still show most Democrats undecided.