« CFO Jeff Atwater also raises questions about $52 million deal for Heritage Insurance | Main | HHS: 70,000 Head Start slots won't be cut »

FL Gov. candidate Nan Rich: Dem Party is "inappropriate" for blocking 5-minute gala speech


After years of fielding complaints that its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was interminably long, the Florida Democratic Party had a solution: Make it shorter by having fewer speakers.

Now it has a new complaint: It's blocking former state Senate Democratic leader Nan Rich, a gubernatorial candidate, from speaking.

"I think it's inappropriate, given the amount of attention the governor's race will draw," said Rich, a Weston resident. "I've been a candidate for a year, I've traveled the state and built a significant infrastructure and grassroots support. And I'm just asking for five minutes."

But it's five minutes too long in the eyes of the Democratic Party's chairwoman, Allison Tant, who decided along with party leaders to keep the June 15 fundraiser at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood limited to three speakers: Congresswoman and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and featured speaker Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio.

"The decision for our JJ program was to have a streamlined event where we have a national speaker. And this year we’re excited to have Julian who spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Committee,” said Christian Ulvert, the state party’s political director.

“In years past, we’ve heard from the attendees that the program goes too long," he said. "We want a shorter program."

Party leaders are adamant: No extra time for Rich or anyone. Letting Rich speak, they say, would lead other Democrats to want to do the same. And that would weigh down the program.

"The program does not feature any candidates," Ulvert said. "This year we have a state convention a more candidate focused event. She’ll have great opportunity to showcase her candidacy and share her message."

Rich learned of the decision last week when she called Tant and was denied a speaking slot. Soon, the liberal Florida Squeeze blog, which opposed Tant for Democratic chair, began complaining about the treatment of Rich.

Rich said she understands the decision to limit the length of the program. She said she remembers one year in which now-Vice President Joe Biden had to wait until about midnight to speak and no one was there.

"It was embarrassing," she said.

But she's not asking for much, Rich siad. And she points out that the governor's race is different from other campaigns; so there should be special consideration.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott is widely disliked and seen as beatable, although he'll be well-funded. Still, Rich isn't the only Democratic candidate. Unknowns Ryan Adam Lipner and Jessica Lana Stewart have filed. Neither has raised any money

Rich's campaign has raised about $121,000 and spent about $26,000 and her political committee has raised an additional $136,000 and spent about $62,000.

By contrast, Scott is ready to spend as much as $100 million by November 2014.

Rich's relatively weak fundraising has Democrats casting about for another candidate. Some are trying to recruit Sen. Nelson, but the Democrat isn't inclined to leave the seat he just retained in Washington. Former Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to announce sometime this summer. But the Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat isn't trusted by many grassroots Democrats.

"They want a true Democrat," Rich said. "They want someone who has consistent core values and principles. They don't see that in Charlie Crist."

But beyond the grassroots, Crist enjoys a major advantage. He has statewide name-identification, he's well-liked by President Obama's Florida team, and he'd be an instant frontrunner who has the best chance of beating Scott, most polls show. Like Castro, Crist spoke at the DNC.

Rich said she'll have the money and the organization to beat Crist. But she also would like a shot to make her case at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. She said she'll still attend, but she doesn't like the new rules.

"This runs contrary to the spirit of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner," Rich said.


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


Allison Tant and her lap dog Christian Ulvert will be the demise of Whatever is left of the Florida Democratic Party. Mrs. Ulvert said that no candidates are allowed to speak but isn't Debbie "dogface" Schultz Considered a constant candidate Since she has to run for reelection every two years? How is that fair?


This is an insane decision by the state party. They are finally, overtly attempting to nationalize the state party, having not noticed that the long-term subtle move in that direction has failed to garner them statewide office wins.

Anyone one but Scott

Nan Rich is a nice lady but she does not have a prayer of winning. You can't let just one candidate in democratic primarty speak, that is not fair.

I am not a fan of Charlie but I will vote for anyone that has a chance to beat Rick Scott and if he is the democratic candidate that has the best chance to beat Scott I will vote for him.

Kristin Carter

Nan Rich is the only credible Democrat so far who's made the commitment to ante up and get in the race. She's already spent months trekking around the state, making contacts and building a grassroots organization. That's more than you can say for anybody else in our party.

Anyone who underestimates this woman's energy, tenacity and dedication to Democratic ideals doesn't know Nan -- but over the next year, they sure as heck will.

I understand the goal of keeping the JJ brief, but with over a decade of service to the people of Florida and the Demorcatic Party, Nan's earned a few minutes at the JJ. They need someone to introduce the Chairwoman. Let it be Nan Rich.


What happened to the "ole fashioned" designated timekeeper???? This is really pissing off the female Dem voters in Florida!!!! Remember, When Women Vote, Democrats Win!


Since the JJ Dinner is being held in Nan Rich's district, make her Honorary Chair of the Dinner... that rectifies the situation. She can welcome all the attendees and have her tiny, tiny "5" minutes too. Bet alot of the FEMALES who paid $180 for a ticket, would sure love a refund now!!!!!


Nan Rich couldn't keep a speech under five minutes if her life depended on it. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Saw her drone on at a previous JJ. Thanks to whomever was responsible for not subjecting us to it again.


Is Mr. Christ going to be @ the JJ Dinner? Will he be sitting @ Ms. Rich's table?


Well, where was the essential "timekeeper" at the previous dinner? Did somebody in senior mgt in Tallahassee forget this key person? I just don't get it. Maybe the speeches need to be sent in ahead, for review, for number of pages & allowance for "ad libbing".

The comments to this entry are closed.