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Nancy Smith

Happy Birthday to Us!

February 27, 2014 - 6:00pm

Today is Sunshine State News' fourth birthday. A blink in history, granted. But in Tallahassee, in this cliquish, who-you-know town of rumors and bluster, conflict and contradictions -- and occasionally something truly extraordinary ... well, four years really is something.

Think how much has happened in that time.

-- On March 1, 2010, Gov. Charlie Crist was still a Republican, still defending his friend Jim Greer, still up in most polls against underdog Marco Rubio.

-- The only house where Rick Scott was a household word was Rick Scott's house.

-- Florida had a state plane, a Department of Community Affairs and a crushing, double-digit unemployment rate.

-- The ranks of the unknown included Patrick Murphy, Ted Yoho, Steve Southerland, Gwen Graham, Lizbeth Benacquisto and Katie Edwards.

-- Meanwhile, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, presiding over the largest GOP majority since Reconstruction, was the up-and-comer, the Republican Party's fair-haired boy.

-- And the Democrats? They had one egg in their basket, Alex Sink, but virtually the whole capital press corps in the coop.

One of my earliest news-story memories was the night in February I moved into my Tallahassee apartment, ready to start this job. Charlie Crist was interviewing with Newsmax. It was the night he uttered the now-famous line: "Im an anti-tax, pro-life, pro-gun Republican, and I think its very clear that during my entire career Ive never voted for a new tax." I knew from that moment I was going to have fun.

At the Florida Press Center, Sunshine State News was like the foreign family that moves into one of the best homes in the neighborhood and puts everybody's nose out of joint. Conservatives living on a liberal block, that was us. But that was also why we moved in. We wanted to be a voice for the other culture.

The truth is, it's been fun all the way. From the late-April day in 2010 when our videographer Lane Wright caught Mike Bennett on the Senate floor opening email of scantily clad women (and the video went viral around the world), to last year when a group of women stood in a circle around my car and said they wouldn't leave until I apologized for the awful things I said about Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- those things and so many moving, extraordinary, wacky, trying times in between, we've had the time of our lives.

Every day is a lesson in something. Usually in the people who work in state government.

I do truly believe the men and women elected to serve the people of Florida in the state Capitol come here humbled by the honor, charged with enthusiasm, and pledged to make this state better. They want to do good, they really do. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out as they planned.

At Sunshine State News, we're pretty much the same. We're here only to serve you, our readers, the best we can. On behalf of our editors and writers -- Allison Nielsen, Chris Moran, Kevin Derby and myself -- thank you for the faith you show in us day after day by clicking on our stories. Our fourth birthday is just an opportunity to tell you you're the best.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423.

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