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Sen. Smith vs. Uncle Luke: the perils of black politics, blogging, Stand Your Ground and being Mr. "Smith"


SmithBeware of looking up legislative votes. It's a tricky business. Especially if you're going to go after someone with the last name of Smith.

Luther Campbell, the rapper-turned-media-figure-turned-commentator, learned that Tuesday when he plugged a new Twitter handle, @UncleLukesEmpir, that linked to this scorching blog post on his website: Barack Obama Needs to Raise Money to Nail Sorry Black Politicians.

The post is a good example of the strong emotions in the black community over George Zimmerman's acquittal in shooting Trayvon Martin, and it underscores a focal point of the outrage: the Stand Your Ground self-defense law. Campbell offered to target those African-American pols who should be on a political "hit list" for having voted for Stand Your Ground in 2005:

"I'll start with U.S. Rep Frederica Wilson and state Sen. Chris Smith, two South Florida African-American pols who voted for the controversial law in 2005. Wilson, who at the time was a state senator, and Smith now claim they would have voted differently because they never imagined someone would invoke Stand Your Ground to kill an unarmed 17-year-old black boy."


Those of us who covered Tallahassee at the time knew there was a problem with that: Smith voted against Stand Your Ground.

So I trolled Uncle Luke on Twitter (repaying the favor for his sometime-Miami Herald bashing) and noted the error by including a link to the vote sheet. Smith was more-circumspect in his Tweet that followed: "Please check your records, I argued against and voted against Stand Your Ground in 2005."

But whoever was manning @UncleLukesEmpir wasn't ready to give in and made the mistake of compounding the error. "Smith is yr name, I see a Y. This is the government site Stop misleading the people," the reply read, providing a link to the state Senate vote.


Wrong chamber. Wrong Smith.

Sen. Smith Tweeted back: "I was in the house of representatives. You are looking at The Senate. Please educate yourself."

The current Fort Lauderdale senator, the Democrats' leader in his chamber, is right.

In 2005, Chris Smith was a state representative. The Smith in the state Senate was Alachua Democrat Rod Smith, who seldom met a gun-rights bill that he didn't back. Smith, who went on to unsuccessfully run for governor and then lieutenant governor and then served as Florida Democratic Party chair, helped persuade his colleagues in the state Senate to vote for the Stand Your Ground bill (which includes now U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson).

Smith told The Herald he called Campbell.

"I was like, dude! I’ve got every 2 Live Cru album in my house! Why is Uncle Luke getting into a Twitter war with me?" Smith said.

The real Campbell, Tweeting from his @unclelukereal1 handle, acknowledged the error. First he told me that and said his staff would get "an earful." I noted he'd definitely get us back when we screw up. Campbell's response: "you know I will lol only person over there get the pass is Jackie Charles." (He also referenced "Audra," which probably refers to Audra Burch).

Campbell then manned up some more: "in my blog today I said that representative Smith voted for standing your ground I was incorrect he an 5 others voted no." (Not sure what the "5" is. Six other black House lawmakers were part of the 20 total no votes, all from Democrats.)

Smith appreciated it. Welcome to blogging about national politics, Uncle Luke.