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Sink announces Rod Smith as running mate at labor hall

In a small packed Police Benevolent Association union hall in West Palm Beach, Democrat Alex Sink introduced her running mate: former state legislator Rod Smith.

Sink said she sought a candidate for lieutenant governor who cares deeply about Florida, has integrity and will work across party lines. She criticized her potential opponents -- Republicans Bill McCollum and Rick Scott -- for "bickering" and "personal attacks."

"I'm fed up with the lack of leadership, partisanship and absence of direction," she said.

Smith who grew up in Palm Beach County, gave the more fiery and colorful speech. He talked about his three children and how his oldest son was busy explaining to judges why his father wouldn't be in the courthouse for the next few weeks or months -- which prompted Sink to interrupt with "years."

He talked about his youth in Palm Beach County where he said his dad and uncles farmed all over the county and he went to work on the farm while attending junior college.

"I will never forget the last time I had a chance to run this county embraced me,'' said Smith, who ran as a Democrat for governor. "I want Palm Beach County to be ground zero," of this campaign, he said.

During a brief press conference with reporters after the speeches, Sink dodged a question about whether she was shying away from Barack Obama at Wednesday's Miami Beach fundraiser. She replied that she expressed to Obama and his staff some concerns she had about issues facing the Panhandle.

Several Democratic politicians attended the event Thursday including Ron Klein and Ted Deutch, both Congressmen who represent parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, state Sen. Dave Aronberg who is running for Attorney General, State Rep. Joe Gibbons and former Attorney General Bob Butterworth.

"You can see the enthusiasm here in this room," Butterworth said. "I cannot think of a better person in the state of Florida. He knows the state."

Gibbons said he worked on Smith's campaign for governor.  He said his only concern was "because he is a trial lawyer there have always been concerns from the business community but it's well-balanced with Alex Sink's business background it counterbalances any concerns the business community would have. She is at the head of the ticket."