Libertarian John Wayne Smith aims to downsize government as Florida’s governor

John Wayne Smith
John Wayne Smith,
LP Florida
2014 Candidate
for Governor

John Wayne Smith has ambitious plans for the office of governor of Florida: cutting taxes to the bone, eliminating dozens of agencies and offices, rescinding laws that allow the use of eminent domain to take property for private gain, and getting rid of occupational licensing schemes that prevent so many people from earning a living. And he’s running to win — first, the party nomination, and then, the governorship of the Sunshine State.

There has hardly been a political battle in central Florida during the past 40 plus years in which this 67-year-old Leesburg, Fla., native has not been involved.

In 1969, he ran for the Leesburg City Commission, a race he repeated in 1970 and again in 2001. He threw his hat into the race for the Ocala City Commission in 1983, and for mayor of Ocala in 1985.

In 1986, 2000, and 2004, he was a candidate for the Florida State House, achieving an unprecedented showing in his most recent race.

“In the 2004 race, I received the highest number of votes for a Florida Libertarian in state house races in 2004,” Mr. Smith recalled. “That was 19,124 votes for 24.75 percent. In five of these races, I received over 20 percent of the vote.”

He ran for Florida governor in 2002 and 2006, and for U.S. vice president in 2008 as a candidate of the Boston Tea Party.

The gubernatorial contest in 2014 is expected to be crowded and unpredictable. Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a venture capitalist who spent roughly $75 million of his own money on his successful 2010 gubernatorial run, has announced his intent to seek reelection.

Other possible big-name contenders include former governor Charlie Crist, Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch, Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, and Republican Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, to name just a few.

Two other Libertarians are also expected to seek the party nomination, current LP Chair Adrian Wyllie and political consultant Roger Stone.

The lackluster economy, Obamacare, and immigration reform are expected to dominate the agenda. But Smith hopes to introduce another issue that the two major parties have consistently failed to tackle: reducing the size of government and curbing its dangerous reach.

“What I would promise would be to try to make all Florida a freer place to live,” Smith wrote in his campaign platform. “I would promise to try to reduce taxes to the point that all proper government functions are adequately funded and that all unnecessary and not proper functions are not funded.”

If elected, Smith plans to undertake a substantial downsizing of the Florida state government.

“There are 50 to 60 agencies and offices I would like to get rid of,” he said, adding that he is still working on a specific plan.

But this trucking industry professional, who has worked in transportation all his life, is certain the government has grown too big, too powerful, and its red tape is overwhelming. He points out that to be able to work these days in the trucking industry in Florida, one needs eight to nine different licenses, each of which entails a government fee and, most likely, some government-sponsored course, which means paying tuition. Many other professions are saddled with the same kind of intrusive, burdensome regulation.

All of this, he argues, promotes protectionism, stifles free enterprise, and prevents willing people from earning a decent living.

“I would cut the number of these licenses to two or three,” Smith suggested. “I’d like to get rid of licenses that people currently need to paint fingernails or dye somebody’s hair.”

He also would like to introduce legislation that would sharply restrict the ability of government to seize property under eminent domain provisions.

“No city, county, multi-county or state government agency or subdivision thereof, shall try to take any property by force not necessary for schools, roads, preparation against natural disasters or national defense,” Smith insisted.