This story originally appeared in The Miami Herald on March 19, 2012.
The first time Florida Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, ran for office, he was just three years out of law school - a 28-year-old who still believed in the power of his lucky navy blue suit. As Smith puts it, he was a "nobody" from Broward County.
And yet, "these people would just show up" as he campaigned around the district. They were lobbyists. "[They'd] pat me on the back and say, 'Hey, I want to support you, ' and then give me a bunch of checks and say: 'Now remember me.' "