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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bittel tightens grip on Florida Democratic Party

Bittel (left) and Bullard are jockeying for the top spot

Special to the Times

Bittel (left) and Bullard are jockeying for the top spot



Coconut Grove developer Stephen Bittel has claimed the support of two of the state's largest labor groups ahead of a Miami-Dade special election that could ultimately decide who heads Florida's Democratic Party.

Bittel's team announced Monday morning that the Florida Education Association and Florida Service Employees International Union have endorsed his run for Miami-Dade County Democratic Party committeeman. Bittel, a major progressive donor, and former Cutler Bay state Sen. Dwight Bullard are jockeying for the position, which Brett Berlin vacated just days after winning in order to make way for Bittel.

The local race carries weight because both Bittel and Bullard, a Miami-Dade public school educator, want to become the Florida Democratic Party chairman but first must win an elected spot on the party's county leadership. Bittel is backed by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the frontrunner to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, while Bullard is backed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' organization, Our Revolution.

"Bittel has articulated a compelling strategy in this complicated moment when working people face unprecedented attacks," SEIU Florida State Council President Monica Russo said in a statement released by Bittel's team. "He has the organizing skills along with a broad array of relationships in the community that position him to be able to transform that vision into a reality."

About 500 Democrats are expected to participate in Tuesday's election. The winner of that race is likely to win the state chair vote Jan. 14.

[Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2016 11:01am]


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