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Fraud claims, voter suppression, Sandusky and a 'Bitches' sign. Yup, FL Dem chair race finishing mean

Bitchesby @MarcACaputo

The Florida Democratic Party picks its new chair tomorrow in Lake Mary -- and perhaps not a day too soon.

The race between Allison Tant and Alan Clendenin has become quite a nasty affair. Some of Clendenin's supporters say some of Tant's have engaged in fraud and shouldn't be allowed to vote.

SanduskyMailer1-150x112At least one challenge was filed Friday night by AFSCME union member David Jacobsen. A Tant supporter, Susannah Randolph, issued a swift rebuke and noted AFSCME contributed money to a Republican committee that sent out a mailer suggesting a Democratic state House candidate wanted to protect pedophiles like Jerry Sandusky. Background here

Randolph, founder of the liberal group Florida Action Watch, was recently the target of an anonymous prankster who posted a "Beware of Bitches" sign on her office. She said it was related to the Tant-Clendenin race.

The battle has spilled over into warring blogs, one of which highlighted the tax returns of Randolph's group.

This isn't typical behavior for Democrats. But that's because Democrats haven't typically had contested chair races. In 2011, it was the Republicans' turn. And they, too, tore each other to shreds. It's the nature of the beast.

Current FDP chairman Rod Smith is trying to stay out of the fray, but he warned people who try to challenge voters that he's not going to tolerate frivolous challenges. The time to make challenges has passed, he said in a letter, and those who hadn't been challenged in a timely fashion will get to vote if they were certified by their county's Democratic Executive Committee.

“I will not tolerate any effort at voter suppression," he said. Download Rod Smith letter.

Some of the who-backs-whom and who can actually vote is a little unclear and a matter of dispute. Here's what's clear: Folks are angry.

As for the race, it appears Tant has the edge in that two heavy hitters are in her corner: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee. Clendenin, though, has strong grassroots support.

Neither Wasserman Schultz or Nelson will be here. They'll have proxies cast their votes for them. And those could be challenged as well.

Clendenin supporters think they're up by at least 40 of about 1,150 available votes. Tant supporters think they're up by about 150.

We'll see tomorrow who's closer to right, assuming the party gets to voting after all the sturm and drang. And regardless of the hard feelings, they should dissipate as the governor's race draws nigh and Democrats focus on beating Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Here's a copy of this evening's complaint letter:

Dear Honorable Officers of the Florida Democratic Party:

I wanted to let you know that I have filed a complaint with the Leon County Democratic Party stating that Alma Gonzalez, who is the Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Florida and a member of the Democratic National Committee, is ineligible to serve on the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee because she appears to have engaged in fraud with her candidacy filings. The complaint has now been forwarded to the local credentials committee and the state party for further proceedings. If you wish to know more, I have forwarded you a copy of the complaint and its attachments.

Respectfully,
 
David Jacobsen, President
Northwest Florida AFSCME Retiree sub-chapter 43

And here's Susannah Randolph's rebuke:

Take me off your list.  I am offended by the $50,000 contribution your union made to Republican Will Weatherford. 

Mr. Weatherford used money such as this to attack our local State Rep. Karen Castor Dentel with an incredibly offensive mailer.

It's interesting Jacobsen would strike at Gonzalez, who's also affiliated with AFSCME as well. Gonzalez lost a battle in December at the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee. She is appealing. She wants to vote for Clendenin. If she can ultimately vote, it'll help Clendenin. If she can't, it should help Tant.

A follow-up email from Jacobsen notes that he wants to block Gonzalez from serving as national committeewoman. He then sent another email to committee members trashing Leon's Jon Ausman.

Yes, it's confusing. So are the rules about who can vote and how much each vote is worth (South Florida votes count more because it accounts for more Democratic votes statewide). So for those keeping score at home, here's the membership list and vote-allocation roster.

Download State Comm Roster - 3 column

Download Vote Allocation 1-26-13 Org Mtg

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