During a turbulent year for the Florida Democratic Party, Chairwoman Terrie Brady on Tuesday resigned the post she's held for more than five years.
But the 43-year-old said the party's troubles were not the reason for the move. Instead, she and party officials said she no longer had time to juggle the party leadership duties and her job with a teacher's union.
"It's Terrie's decision and Terrie's decision only," Democratic Party spokesman Tony Welch told the Associated Press. "In trying to balance her professional and personal life, there was not the time to devote to both duties."
Brady presided over statewide victories for the Democrats in Lawton Chiles' re-election in the 1994 governor's race and President Clinton's Florida victory in 1996, the first victory for a Democratic presidential candidate in Florida in 20 years.
But the party has faced troubles with fund-raising, a dispute with black leadership over the ouster of a black lawmaker from a House leadership position and a lack of confidence in their front-running candidate Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay. Several top Democrats unsuccessfully tried to recruit Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence to run at the top of the ticket because of concerns about MacKay's chances against Miami businessman Jeb Bush.
"This has nothing to do with the governor's race or the turmoil in the party," Brady told the Florida Times-Union. "No one has asked for my resignation. No one is forcing me out. I've got two full-time positions, and I just can't do it anymore."
Gov. Lawton Chiles thanked Brady for helping elect Democrats, including him in 1994, and for her years of service.
"Terrie had guided the Democratic Party through some hard-fought victories for Florida and for the nation," Chiles said. "I am sincerely grateful for her work on behalf of all Democrats and I look forward to her continued role in helping Democrats achieve victory in 1998."
Brady said she is spread too thin, trying to balance her unpaid party duties with her job as staff consultant for Duval Teachers United.
"I don't ever have any free time," she said. "I'm either doing my job or on the road for the party."
Although she is leaving the state post, Brady will remain on the Democratic National Committee and continue as chairwoman of the DNC's Southern Region as well as the Duval County Democratic Party. Her replacement will be chosen by early June, said party executive director Scott Falmlen.
While Brady cited her desire to spend more time with her job, some saw the move as an effort to bring South Florida money back to the party. Broward County Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Ceaser is a front-runner to win the job next month, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Florida Republican Party Chairman Tom Slade, also from Duval County, called Brady a friend as well as a rival.
"She's a good person who has been trapped in an impossible job," Slade told the Sentinel. "When your party's out of fresh faces and out of fresh ideas, there's no place to go but down."
Senate Democratic Leader Buddy Dyer, of Orlando, expected the move to help the party as fall elections approach, saying "anything that energizes the party and energizes our ability to raise money is a good thing." But he praised Brady's years of service.
Brady rose through the ranks from the party's grass roots. She stuffed envelopes, campaigned door to door and helped register voters, all things she continued doing as party chairwoman.
She volunteered for her first presidential campaign in 1972 as a high school senior working on a political science project, signing up to help George McGovern, and has been involved in every presidential race since. She started helping with then-Arkansas Gov. Clinton's presidential campaign in Florida in 1990.