|26th Governor of Florida|
January 3, 1933 – January 5, 1937
|Preceded by||Doyle E. Carlton|
|Succeeded by||Fred P. Cone|
|Attorney for Florida's 7th Judicial Circuit Court|
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
|Born||October 6, 1891|
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||March 21, 1953 (aged 61)|
Key West, Florida
|Spouse(s)||Alice May Agee|
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
David Sholtz (October 6, 1891 – March 21, 1953) was the 26th Governor of Florida.
Sholtz was born on October 6, 1891, in Brooklyn, New York to Michael and Annie (Bloom) Sholtz who were both described as being Russian Jewish David was one of three siblings in his family. His father, Michael would immigrate to the United States when he was 15.
Sholtz would attend Public School #41 in Brooklyn and graduated from Boys High School in 1910. When David was in high school he was the editor of the school's publication and the manager of its baseball team. He was a member of the Arista honor society and was the founder of a fraternity there.
After graduating from high school he would attend Yale University. After graduating from Yale, where he was a member of the Acacia fraternity, he earned a law degree from Stetson University Law School in 1914. This enabled him to become a Florida lawyer without having to take the bar examination, as Florida then adhered to the diploma privilege.
With his law degree, he started a law practice in Daytona Beach, Florida. Sholtz entered politics when he became a one-term member of the Florida House of Representatives in 1917, however Sholtz would end up resigning as he enlisted to serve in the U.S. Navy when the United States World War I. During the war he had the rank of ensign and served under the Censorship Board being stationed in Key West and Havana, Cuba.
After that, he was a State Attorney from 1919 to 1921 serving for the 7th Judicial Circuit, becoming the city judge of Daytona Beach in 1921. After serving as Daytona Beach's city judge he would be the president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce from 1928 to 1929. His experiences meeting Floridians from a variety of different backgrounds as the president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce would convince him that he could be elected as governor.
When Sholtz was running for governor, he'd run on a platform of increasing government services, free school textbooks, 9-month school terms, back pay for teachers, workers compensation, increasing banking regulations and giving more funding for the public welfare. Sholtz would have no money for campaign advertisements apart from mailing a few campaign letter which required him to go door-to-door for donations. He would mainly use a flatbed truck with 2 loudspeakers mounted on it while driving across the state. A dynamic public speaker, he would rarely use notes for speeches and was his speaking abilities were comparable to Huey Long and while speaking he would often give an impression of authenticity.
John W. Martin during the primaries would play up the fact that Sholtz was of Jewish ancestry in an anti-Semitic attack on him. It would eventually become one of the most significant aspects of the campaign season. Martin would even write to Germany in an attempt to get sworn depositions proving he was Jewish. Sholtz would end up ignoring the attacks that Martin made on him . However, he was an active member of an Episcopal Church in Daytona Beach. Sholtz's victory in the primary was unexpected at the time as most political analysts were expecting either Cary A. Hardee or John W. Martin, both former governors of Florida to win the primary. The Florida Democratic primary would be held on June 7, 1932. In the primary, Sholtz would end up in 2nd place out of 7 candidates.
After the primaries, Sholtz would end up advancing to the runoff election for the primary that was held on June 28. In the runoff he would faceoff against former Governor Martin and Sholtz ended up winning the election.
During the general election in November he would run against Republican candidate William J. Howey, the mayor of Howey-in-the-Hills. David Sholtz would end up receiving 286,270 votes or 66.62% of the vote. Sholtz would also end up winning a majority of the vote in every county. While William J. Howey would get 93,323 or 33.38% of the vote.
Taking the oath on January 4, 1933, he became governor during the Great Depression. During his tenure as governor, he established the Florida Park Service and Florida Citrus Commission, passed a workers' compensation law, mandated free textbooks in public schools, and funded salaries for public school teachers. While in office, he was a strong advocate of governmental restructuring.
During Sholtz's tenure as governor, the lynching of Claude Neal would occur and there would be national attention surrounding the incident. Walter Francis White, the NAACP Secretary would send a telegram to Schultz on October 26, 1934, telling him that the mob who had abducted him was planning on burning him at a stake and that he rescue him and put him in a safe location. Sholtz responded saying that he couldn't send Florida National Guard troops to Greenwood without the Jackson County Sheriff, Flake Chambliss asking for the National Guard first; which Chambliss hadn't asked up until that point. After Neil's body was removed from where it was located, most of the mob surrounding him had left but a smaller mob had formed at close to noon during that day. The mob would try targeting local African-Americans that day and the police wouldn't intervene as the mob would threatened to beat anyone in the police force it came into contact with. The mayor of Marianna called Sholtz asking for assistance which he granted sending in the Florida National Guard to restore order and the mob would disperse.
During his first message to the state legislature he would commend President Franklin D. Roosevelt saying:
President Roosevelt has boldly shown the way to the nation and Congress has worked with him for the solution of national problems. I can only ask that you, within all Constitutional grounds, work with me in the solution of our state problem.
Also during his first state legislature message, Sholtz would recommend reducing the cost of license tags to what he saw as a reasonable price of $5 along with a "conservation department for the state" to be established. He would also want to have a balanced and well made budget for the state. Sholtz proposed that income received from car license taxes and a one mill school tax from construction along with the state's share of pari-mutuel betting could be used as a way to pay for the school fund allowing for teachers to be paid in regular money instead of scrip. He thought that the money generated from these 3 sources be enough to pay for teacher salaries and textbooks.
Sholtz would manage to overcome the strong opposition publishers had to providing free public school textbooks. Publishers would thought his plan was "socialistic" and tried to persuade members of the legislature to their side. Despite the publisher's resistance he would manage to get it. Sholtz would counter it successfully and manage to get it passed.
The relief programs he would created up did end up being popular. Towards the end of his administration, accusations of bribery along with in corruption in the gaming and racing commissions would circulate which hampered his reputation with Floridians.
After leaving the Governor's Mansion on January 5, 1937, Sholtz unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1938, losing the Democratic primary to Claude Pepper. He spent most of his time in New York after his term as governor, but he retained his residency in Florida. He died while visiting Key West, Florida in 1953 and is buried at the Cedar Hill Memory Gardens in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Sholtz was involved in freemasonry being a York and Scottish Rite Mason. Along with freemasonry, he was a Shriner and a member of The Elks. He would be involved with the American Legion as well.
David Sholtz would marry Alice May Agee in 1926 and would have 3 children with her. Sholtz was a personal friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was described by those who knew him as having a kind, warm hearted and projecting personality.