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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A Democrat steps up to challenge Fla CFO Jeff Atwater

Allie Braswell.

Courtesy of the campaign

Allie Braswell.



Allie Braswell, head of the central Florida Urban League and former Disney official, is running to be the Democratic challenger to Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

"I’m not a politician. But what we’re getting out of politician Jeff Atwater is a go-along to get-along style that is hurting Floridians. Under his watch, billions in no-bid contracts have been given away and people with insider connections are getting rich off taxpayer money,” said Braswell, 51, a Sanford native and son of a citrus truck driver and Marine Corps veteran.

“We need a leader who will help protect taxpayers by cracking down on huge contracts that politicians are handing over to their supporters and political allies." Braswell said. I’ll be a fiscal watchdog who will hold our government and politicians accountable and fight to shift the focus of our leaders away from helping their friends and back to attracting good jobs to Florida."

As a first time candidate little known outside the Orlando area, Braswell is the clear underdog against Atwater, a formidable money-raiser who previously served as Florida Senate president and as a banking executive. Atwater and the state GOP have already spent more than $330,000 on campaign staff and activity for the CFO, without a challenger even in the race.

"Mr. Braswell and Democrats want to focus on politics well over a year before Election Day," said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for Atwater." Jeff Atwater is focused on serving Floridians by working to bring relief to insurance ratepayers and fighting the consumer fraud that steals from seniors and families."

Braswell, after 13 years in the Marines including a stint in Iraq during the first Gulf war, worked a senior technology officer and diversity manager at Walt Disney World, before taking the helm of the Metropolitcan Orlando Urban League in 2010 at the time the non-profit was struggling.

"When I was at Disney I was tasked with bringing a $14-million budget down to $11-million, and we did it without cutting jobs. We did it while keeping people in mind," Braswell said.

Braswell said he wants to give working class Floridians a voice in Tallahassee and that Artwater's actions on scrutinizing rising insurance rates have amounted to too little, too late.

“I will stand for the people of Florida against waste, fraud and abuse in Tallahassee, and fight to achieve social and economic success for every Floridian.”

The state Democratic party all but anointed Braswell as their nominee Thursday:
"I am thrilled that Allie Braswell is running for Florida's CFO, because he's exactly the kind of leader we need in Tallahassee. We need a leader who will fight the politicians who are giving taxpayer money to their donors and friends. Floridians deserve a leader who will fight to hold government accountable, and attract new jobs to our state," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant.

"Floridians deserve better than Jeff Atwater, who is looking out for the big special interests -- not middle class Floridians," she said. "From the Marines to the corporate boardroom to the streets of Orlando, Allie has always served his country and his community. While an executive at Disney, Allie cut budgets without cutting jobs. As the CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, Allie turned around a struggling organization. I'm proud he's running for CFO

[Last modified: Thursday, August 15, 2013 2:57pm]


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