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Broward Democrats to elect leaders who will help pick next Florida Democratic Party chair


Broward Democrats will elect their own leaders Saturday including some who will play a key role in selecting the next Florida Democratic Party chair.

About 600 Democratic activists who represent precincts across the county will gather at the Signature Grand hotel in Davie Saturday afternoon to elect a chair, state committeeman and state committee woman and other representatives.

The state committeeman and committee woman elect the state chair based on a formula that gives weight to the number of registered Democratic voters in each county which means that Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach are the key decision-makers. After Broward Democrats elect the committeeman and woman, these county leaders will get lobbied by the long list of candidates vying for state chair to replace Allison Tant in January.

Broward state committeeman Ken Evans will run to keep his position and faces Thaddeus Hamilton, who lost a race against Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam in 2014. Evans has been endorsed by several politicians including local members of Congress Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch.

Grace Carrington, a Democratic leader in Coral Springs, is running for state committee woman.

Mitch Ceasar, who has been Broward chair for about two decades, isn't seeking re-election. In 2015, he stepped aside while running for Clerk of Courts, handing off the leadership to vice chair Cynthia Busch. (Ceasar briefly returned to the chair post after losing his primary.)

Busch appears to be the favored candidate in the chair race against vice chair Christine Jones

Since Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton, Busch says interest has spiked in volunteering for the county party.

"People are really really angry," she said. "We need to channel that constructively and work toward maintaining what we have and making sure we don't lose ground in this off-year."

Broward has about 600,000 registered Democrats -- the highest contingent in the state but it often lags behind the statewide average in turnout, particularly in years when presidential candidates aren't on the ballot.

Busch doesn't get a vote for state party chair but she says one of the candidates called her so far: Stephen Bittel, a prominent Coconut Grove fundraiser and developer. Bittel told the Miami Herald on Nov. 14th that he "might" be interested in the chair position. He could not be reached Monday or Tuesday.

Bittel isn't a Miami-Dade precinct committeeman, a prerequisite to run for state chair but he has said that the party can figure out a way to make it happen. Miami-Dade Democrats hold their election Dec. 6th.

In Miami-Dade, the current chair Sen. Dwight Bullard of Cutler Bay told the Miami Herald that he will run for vice chair for the county -- that allows him to avoid the competitive six-way race for county chair. Bullard, who lost to Republican State Rep. Frank Artiles Nov. 8, said that he will then run for state chair.

Susannah Randolph, former district director for U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, is also running for state chair. Alan Clendenin, the Tampa activist who lost to Tant told Naked Politics that he will decide no earlier than Dec. 15th about whether to run for state chair.