Updated: Dems replace Dingfelder with Dingfelder, squabble over headquarters
With no debate, Hillsborough County Dems chose former Tampa City Council member John Dingfelder to replace himself on the ballot in the District 1 County Commission race. Dingfelder withdrew from the race on Tuesday, hoping to avoid a lawsuit by the local GOP challenging his ability to run in the race because he missed a deadline to file resign-to-run papers with the Supervisor of Elections. Read more about the appointment of Dingfelder to the ballot here
While the selection of Dingfelder was a show of party unity, tensions flared at the meeting when party chair Pat Kemp reminded folks of the grand opening of the headquarters at 6420 N. Central Ave. scheduled for July 8 at 6 p.m. That prompted party member Mark Beiro to ask how much the party was paying for the space. Kemp refused to answer, saying discussion of the rent wasn't on the agenda (even though she allowed a lengthy off-agenda discussion of the county mayor initiative, saying that was time sensitive) and Beiro missed the meeting when it was discussed. It's well known within the party that Kemp and Beiro's wife, Jackie, who is black, don't get along. Kemp refused to sign Jackie Beiro's petition in her run for Supervisor of Elections. Beiro eventually withdrew from the race, and sitting supervisor Earl Lennard, a Republican, walked into the post without opposition. As Mark Beiro pressed Kemp to answer the rent question, she cut him off while members of the party's black caucus urged her to answer. After the meeting adjourned, Kemp told Beiro the rent would be $1,000 a month, and he said that price sounded fine to him. But he used the opportunity to lash out at Kemp. "This committee has done a lot to ostracize many of its members by its attitude," Beiro said. Dianne Hart, also a member of the black caucus, agreed that Kemp should have just answered the question. "That was rude and uncalled for. The man asked a simple question," she said. "We've got to respect each other."
Update: John Dingfelder today officially qualified for the District 1 Hillsborough County Commission race. He's still likely to face a legal challenge from the GOP, though. They still want him off the ballot.
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer