Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County Commission candidate resigns as president of NAACP branch

BROOKSVILLE — Ready to campaign in earnest, Hernando County Commission candidate Paul Douglas has resigned as president of the local branch of the NAACP.

He has also switched political parties.

Douglas, who filed five months ago to run as a Republican for the District 5 seat currently held by James Adkins, resigned effective April 1 because NAACP rules forbid executive officers from campaigning for political office.

The 67-year-old Brooksville resident changed his party affiliation to Democrat on Wednesday, but he will appear on the ballot as a no-party candidate. State law requires candidates who want to run with party affiliation to be a member of that party for at least a year prior to the qualifying period for the election.

That means Douglas will bypass the August primary election and head straight to the November general election ballot. As of Friday, Adkins and another Republican, local businessman Michael Barsanti, were the only other candidates in the race.

That strategic benefit was a factor in the decision to switch parties, Douglas said, but so was ideology. He said the GOP's recent efforts to rewrite election laws and its views on women's reproductive rights have dismayed him.

"I cannot cotton to the fact they are trying to control contraception for a woman and suppress the vote," Douglas said. "I can't defend the things they're doing."

On the local level, Douglas said he hopes to appeal to a wider range of voters who can look beyond party affiliation and focus on the need for new perspective on the county board.

"The one-party Board of County Commissioners is not getting the job done," he said. "It's time for us to get some other thoughts in there so at least we can get a debate going."

Douglas said he will emphasize his status as a registered Democrat. He can note on his campaign materials that he is registered with the party, but the political disclaimer required by law must state that he is a no-party candidate, said Liz Townsend, director of operations for the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Office.

So far, no candidate who would appear as a Democrat on the ballot has expressed an interest in the race, said Steve Zeledon, chairman of the Hernando Democratic Executive Committee. The party must support the Democrat in the general election, but if no Democrat files and the race comes down to the Republican and Douglas in the general election, Douglas can count on the party's help, Zeledon said.

"We're free to support anyone who supports the ideals and the philosophies of the Democratic Party," Zeledon said. "I haven't always agreed with Paul, but he has always demonstrated an interest in working to better the community."

Said Adkins: "I'm glad he changed to Democrat. That's what I thought he was. I don't have a problem running against a liberal."

Douglas laughed at that. He called himself a fiscal moderate leaning conservative, and a social liberal.

"I don't even like to classify myself as a liberal or conservative," he said. "I'm issue oriented. I don't blindly follow ideology."

Douglas said he first registered as a Republican, switched to Democrat in the 1970s to vote in a presidential primary, then switched back to the GOP when he moved to Hernando in 2003.

Elected as NAACP branch president in 2010, Douglas said in January that he hoped to stay on for as long as possible before the qualifying period in June. Officials with the organization said he could remain in the post until that point, as long as he didn't actively campaign.

But it didn't make sense to wait that long to start attending candidate forums and collecting money, Douglas said.

"I'm already behind," he said.

Anticipating his eventual resignation, the branch's executive committee recently voted to fill some vacant positions. First Vice President Wayman Boggs, who served as branch president previously, agreed to take the helm for now, but told the Times this week that he doesn't plan to run during the branch's regular elections in November. He said Douglas did a good job leading the organization.

"I'm happy to see that he's running, and I hope that he's successful," Boggs said. "He's a good man."

Douglas said he would run for branch president if his bid for the commission fails and hasn't ruled out running even if he wins the County Commission seat.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or

Hernando County Commission candidate resigns as president of NAACP branch 04/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 6, 2012 8:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas deputies investigating death near Clearwater

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office's robbery and homicide unit is investigating a death at a condo complex at 2426 Persian Drive, unit 34.

  2. Florida Gators' Malik Zaire: 'This is everything to me'


    GAINESVILLE - We're two weeks and one day away from the Florida Gators' Sept. 2 season opener against Michigan, and the quarterback position remains unresolved.

  3. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., joined by, from left, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., holds up a letter he sent to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, requesting a bipartisan effort on tax reform, earlier this month during a news conference on Capitol Hill Washington. [AP photo]
  4. 12-foot alligator catch follows an 11-footer caught the night before


    Catching an 11-foot alligator might be considered a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, but four Florida Panhandle men who did that Wednesday turned around an captured a 12-foot gator the next night.

    Nick Naylor poses with the 12-foot-6 alligator pulled from Blackwater Bay on Thursday night. [Courtesy of Nick Naylor, John Booker, Kenny Way and Casey Shields]
  5. Beards are back in style, but guys, take care of them


    Tired of sitting in front of a computer screen for a living, Tyler Goelz wanted to make something tangible. The 28-year-old web developer only had to look in the mirror to find inspiration.

    Tyler Goelz of St. Petersburg, the creator of Organic Beard Supply, is pictured at Central Oak Barber Co. in St. Petersburg with some of his products. Goelz, 28, has had a beard since he could grow one.