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Broward Dem chair to face Peter Deutsch

Broward Democrats fired up about Barack Obama and smarting from losing the sheriff's race and two key state legislative contests say it's time for a shake up at their own party headquarters.

Former Congressman Peter Deutsch will challenge Mitch Ceasar for the position of chair of the Broward Democratic Party, according to active Democrats supporting Deutsch.

Deutsch couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon but Robin Rorapaugh, his former chief of staff, said he plans to run in the Dec. 7 election. Rorapaugh is the spokesperson for a coalition of organized labor, GLBT leaders, and other active Democrats who say after 12 years it's time for Ceasar to go.

"There is a lot of new blood in the county, a lot of opportunity like the governor's race upcoming, the U.S. Senate race upcoming. All of those need Broward County to be the vote producing machine,'' she said. "At this point doing things the same old way is not going to get the party and candidates across the finish line.''

Some of Deutsch's other supporters include Michael Albetta, a board member of the Dolphin Democrats, and Dan Reynolds, AFL-CIO president.

Ceasar, an attorney and lobbyist, said he's heard the rumors for months that Deutsch planned to challenge him for the four-year unpaid gig. He says he shouldn't be blamed for Republican Sheriff Al  Lamberti's victory or for Republicans Jeff Atwater and Ellyn Bogdanoff keeping their seats in the state Legislature.

"They were all incumbents,'' he said. "They raised unbelievable amounts of money.''

Deutsch will run on a slate along with Linda Bird who lost the senate race to Atwater, Marta Prado, wife of former Attorney General Bob Butterworth and activist Ron Mills.

Since losing the U.S. Senate primary in 2004 to Betty Castor who later lost to Republican Mel Martinez, Deutsch launched a charter school that teaches Hebrew in Hollywood.

On Dec. 7, about 900 members of the Broward Democratic Executive Committee will vote for a chair.