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Taylor drops bid to replace Pafford as Florida House Democratic leader

For the second time this year, Rep. Dwayne Taylor called off his own bid to replace Rep. Mark Pafford as Florida House Democratic leader.

Taylor, of Daytona Beach, said he concluded this weekend that he wouldn't be able to work with Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant, who strongly supported Pafford.

"I took last week to evaluate what was said coming from Florida Democratic leadership," Taylor said. "When you're the minority leader, you have to be able to work with them. I just don't think I can work with them."

Taylor was scheduled to make his case at 6 p.m. today when the House Democrats meet on the floor to nominate Pafford. They'll still meet, but Taylor said he's withdrawn his challenge.

He said he will be able to work with Pafford.

"This was never about him personally," Taylor said. "He's going to depend on me to help shoulder the load."

Still, it was the second time that Taylor, backed by Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Kevin Rader, D-West Palm Beach, tried to oust Pafford. Pafford had led a successful effort in 2013 to oust Rouson.

Taylor's case for replacing Pafford, both times, was his dissatisfaction with fundraising. As the incoming House minority leader, it was Pafford's job to raise money for House races. After the Democrats lost six seats, Taylor blamed Pafford for not raising enough money.

But leaders in the Florida Democratic Party said Taylor's case was incorrect. Last week, they disclosed figures that showed Pafford and the party had raised $5.2 million, the most ever for Democrats in House races.

Taylor said he didn't believe those figures and questioned the motives behind leadership's rallying around Pafford. 

Tant gave an unusually frank interview to the News Service of Florida last week where she expressed her frustration with Taylor's challenge. Since becoming the Chairwoman in 2013, Monday's vote would have been the seventh time the House minority leader would have been up for a vote.

“That’s a seventh vote in one year and eight months. How the optics of that looks good for Florida is beyond me. ..How do you think they’re going to win races when they’re fighting each other? Mark Pafford should have been able to put together his leadership team without having to deal with this noise.”

Taylor said Tant's comments were inappropriate. But he said his main objection with her and the Florida Democratic Party is that they choose sides in primaries.

"Those are the practices that divide a caucus," he said.

Taylor said he concluded the unity of the caucus was more important than him becoming minority leader.

"It's not worth fighting them for this," he said. "