« Rick Scott loyalist heading Republican Governor's Association | Main | Ballot irregularities, conspiracies dog FL Democratic chair election »

It's Tant. Allison Tant wins FL Dem Chair race, beats Clendenin 587-507

Allison Tant beat Alan Clendin in a hard-fought race for Florida Democratic Party chair.

Tant won 587 votes to Clendenin's 448 507. UPDATE NOTE: the original count didn't include at least one ballot that wasn't initially counted.

"Thank you, Alan Clendenin, for making me a better candidate," Tant said.

Tant's win spared Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson a measure of embarrassment. Both pushed hard for Tant. They wanted her to lead the party because she knows how to fundraise. And they need money, truckloads of it, to unseat Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

"We are going to have to work to out-raise, out-organize and out-work the GOP," Tant said. "We’ve done it before. We’re going to do it again."

But they haven’t done it during a governor’s race since 1994, when incumbent Gov. Lawton Chiles beat challenger Jeb Bush.

Ever since that election, though, Republicans took over the entire Legislature. Bush then won the governor's mansion in 1998 and Republicans now control every statewide elected seat based in Tallahassee. Nelson is the only Democrat elected statewide.

But President Obama's re-election in Florida and nationwide has Democrats feeling stronger than ever in recent years. He's the first Democrat to carry Florida twice since 1936. Also, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has terrible poll numbers.

Democrats know they have a problem: Their voters show up in outsized numbers in presidential election years, but often get out-voted during governors' races.

"Can we get them to show up in off year elections? Can we get that same energy in off year elections?" Rod Smith, presiding over the election in his last act as chair, asked the crowded room of Democrats.

"I don’t know about you all, but I wouldn’t mind attending something I’ve not been to in a long, long time – and that would be the inauguration of a Democratic governor in this state," Smith said. "Rick Scott has done his part for us. His work alone won’t be sufficient to get us elected. But it should give us a running start.”

Annette Taddeo, Miami-Dade County's Democratic chairwoman who nominated Tant pointed out that Scott also has prodigious personal wealth.

"One number should worry you: $70m," she said. "That's how much Rick Scott spent in 2010."

Actually, Scott spent millions more of his own money.

The Democratic chair race was unusually bitter – not between Tant and Clendenin, but between their supporters.


Democrat attacked Democrat behind each other’s back and on blogs. Some tried to block others from voting in the chair race.

Smith refused to block Democrats from voting if they had been certified previously.

“I will not tolerate any effort at voter suppression," he said in a letter.

On the final day, Friday, liberal activist Susannah Randolph rebuked another Democrat by email when he accused another of fraud. Randolph, a backer of Tant along with husband and Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph said that tensions were so high that someone taped a sign on her office door that said “Beware of Bitches.”

Clendenin had widespread and early grassroots support. But it wasn't enough to overcome the institutional support of Tant.

Before the vote, Clendenin sought to make the race a contest between the rank-and-file and the elite.

"Does our party belong to a group of Tallahassee insiders, consultants and lobbyists or does it belong to us?" he asked.

After he lost, Clendenin was elected vice chair and took the loss with grace. He hugged Tant and then held her hand high.

"Make no mistake, GOP, this team's coming to get you," Clendenin said.

 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

whywhat

Bad choice FlaDems

Rich Van Pelt

Not very smart. Electing her chairperson just because our party needs cash and she is a good fundraiser? That would be like putting a school district's accountant in charge of our children's education, because the school needs money to operate. There are so many priorities and needs in our Florida Democratic Party besides fundraising. So we will have the cash, but no direction nor true leadership. Very disappointed. The Florida Republicans are having a good laugh today.

Anti-Tallahassee

Wasserman Schultz, Bill Nelson, and their proxies will not lead the Dumbocrats to the Governor's mansion. I desperately want to vote against Rick Scott and his Repugnant legislative allies. There is still time for the people of the Democrat party of Florida to choose a moderate candidate who can attract relatively conservative voters. Alex Sink is a good candidate. Charlie Crist is a BAD choice.

Local Democratic Functionary

Accountant and fundraiser are different professions. To combat the self-made billionaire CONVICTED Medicare fraud candidate who is in office, there is no substitute for money. Charlie Crist would not be the best candidate but he looks better and better as time goes by. I'd rather have Sink, but we'll see who is on the ballot when the time comes and support them WITH ENTHUSIASM.

sandy oestreich


Why do I KNOW Ms Tant can DO what's needed?

SHE'S A WOMAN. PERIOD.

Congrats, Allison, from the one spearheading the Equal Rights Amendment for THIRTEEN YEARS now before the Florida legislature! The Republican juggernaut has refused even to HEAR THE ERA RATIFICATION BILL for all those years despite our 18/7 pounding work.

THIS year may be different if Rep. Eddy Gonzalez of State and Fed Affairs can be persuaded to hear HCR 8001 and Sen. Tom Lee of Senate Judiciary does the same with SCR 54.

Anyone can call respectfully to urge hearings of both.

With only two phone calls, you can help Florida move the ERA forward!
1. Call Rep. Eddy Gonzalez at 305.364.3066 and ask him to hold a House Local and Federal Affairs Committee hearing on HCR 8001 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
2. Call Sen. Tom Lee, 813.653.7061 and ask him to hold a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on SCR 54 to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Allison, we 300 000 are WITH you. Give ERA a verbal nod!

sandy oestreich sandyo@PassERA.org 2PassERA.org
Founder-Pres., National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance w/focus first on ratifying Florida while we mentor EIGHT other states and ONLY NEED 3 to pass the ERA!!!
fmr elected official
Prof. Emerita
Co-author, internationally distributed pharmacology reference texts
Nurse practitioner
Mom and Wife
blah blah

WISH ALL OF US 88% WHO WANT AN ERA ...great good luck. We need it after 13 years of For Free lobbying for you, Male and Female alike. Just that we females are NOT mentioned in the US Constitution, the Nation's contract with its (male) people. It's why they can try to wage the Republican legislative War on Women and families!


Will they? IT'S UP TO DEMOCRATS APPARENTLY.

The comments to this entry are closed.