Miami-Dade donor Stephen Bittel released a list of about two dozen endorsements in his race for Florida Democratic Party chair -- including four three members of Congress Monday.
That far outpaces the number of endorsements released Monday by his local rival -- former state Sen. Dwight Bullard -- who announced a handful of endorsements.
Bittel, a major donor to Democratic candidates and a Coconut Grove developer, and Bullard will compete in the state party chair election in Orlando Saturday. The other candidates are activist Alan Clendenin -- from Hillsborough County who moved to Bradford to keep his bid alive -- Duval County's Lisa King and Osceola Democratic party chair Leah Carius.
State committeemen and women who represent large Democratic counties get the most powerful voice in the election because their votes are weighted based on the number of registered Democrats in their counties.
Holding a county party position is a prerequisite to running for state chair. After Bullard lost a state committeeman race to Bittel, he moved to Gadsden County and won a similar position there.
Bittel has been endorsed by three members of Congress who live in Palm Beach County: Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel.
Bittel's list initially included U.S. Rep. Val Demings who represents the Orlando area. After we posted this blog, a spokeswoman for Demings, Caroline Rowland, said Demings did not endorse Bittel or anyone else. Rowland provided a statement from Demings:
“While Mr. Bittel asked for my support, I told him I had not decided and would not decide until I had the opportunity to look at all of the candidates.”
Bittel's team said it was a "cut and paste error."
One key statewide politician is missing from the official endorsement list: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the only statewide Democrat in Florida. Nelson has stopped short of officially endorsing Bittel but has praised him. Ultimately the votes are public so Nelson will have to make it clear Saturday which candidate he supports.
Also missing on endorsement lists: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston who appears to be staying quiet about the race this time after stepping down as national party chair in July. In 2013, Wasserman Schultz urged activists to vote for Allison Tant, the eventual winner who isn't seeking the position again. Bittel has fundraised for Wasserman Schultz in the past.
A spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, David Damron, said she isn't commenting on the chair race and will send a proxy to vote for her.
One group that weighed in earlier in the process has since gone quiet: Our Revolution, the political organization formed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Our Revolution endorsed Bullard in December for his race in Miami-Dade County but a spokeswoman, Arianna Jones, told the Miami Herald that it is no longer involved in the race for state chair. Jones didn't respond to an email asking why Our Revolution is no longer involved.
Here are the endorsements Bullard and Bittel announced Monday -- all of them get a vote Saturday unless otherwise noted:
Here are Bullard's endorsements:
- Democratic Black Caucus of Florida
- Brevard County state committeeman Sanjay Patel
- Martin County state committeewoman Dawn Abate.
- Alachua County Democratic Executive Committee (doesn't get a vote but Bullard won their straw poll)
Here are Bittel's endorsements:
· Chris Reilly, President of Florida College Democrats
· Catherine Michiels, Lee County Committeeman
· Michael Bonacolta, Lee County Committeewoman
· Rhett Bullard, Hamilton County Committeeman
· Shauna Faries Adams, Hamilton County Committeewoman
· Lucy Garner: Charlotte County Committeeman
· Thomas Garner, Charlotte County Committeewoman
· Thomas Byrd, Bay County Committeeman
· Patricia Byrd, Bay County Committeewoman
· Diane Krumel, Escambia County Committeewoman
· David Dew, Martin County Committeeman and Chair of the Small County Coalition of FL
· Brad Culverhouse, St. Lucie County Committeeman
· Cong. Ted Deutch, US Congress
· · Cong. Lois Frankel, US Congress
· Cong. Alcee Hastings, US Congress
· Volusia Councilwoman Joyce Cusack, State Executive Committee
· Joseph Falk, State Executive Committee
· State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Executive Committee
· Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, State Executive Committee
· Rep. Janet Cruz, Florida State House Democratic Leader
· Andy Tobias, State Executive Committee
· Carlos Odio, State Executive Committee
· Miami-Dade Democratic Party (Bittel gets a vote as state committeeman)
· Escambia Democratic Party steering committee (the party itself doesn't get a vote)