Several local Democratic Party officials say they’re not happy with their choices in the race for state Democratic Party chairperson, while local Republicans say they’d be satisfied with either candidate in the race for their party’s state chair.
Both parties are about to elect new state chairs, but the Democrats need to rebuild after disastrous losses in the Nov. 8 election and the resignation of former chairperson Manny Diaz.
Several area Democrats said they believe their views as the grassroots workers responsible for local electioneering are being overlooked in the race, and would like to see other candidates besides the three running.
Elected Democratic officeholders, including legislators, are “stepping on the scale” and lining up behind one candidate, Annette Taddeo, with “very little input from county chairs,” said Hillsborough Democratic Chairperson Ione Townsend. “That is a shame because we are the ones who are supposed to implement party policy.”
Townsend is the leader of the state caucus of county party chairpersons.
The other two candidates are Broward County party Chairman Rick Hoye and political consultant Alex Berrios. Taddeo is a former state senator from Miami and unsuccessful candidate for Congress in November.
Leaders of both parties will be elected by delegates from the counties to their state party executive committees.
Hernando County Democratic Party Chairman Brian Stewart said he’s “completely under-enthused” about the current candidates.
“They’re a lot of nice people who will probably be as ineffective as the past chairman,” he said.
He said he’d prefer Nikki Fried, former state agriculture commissioner and unsuccessful candidate for governor in November, or former U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Marco Rubio last year.
Joe Adams, a Citrus County delegate to the Democratic state committee, also said he’d back Fried — “We need a chair that’s going to be a loud bulldog with a bullhorn,” he said.
Fried, however, has said she won’t be a candidate in the race.
Candidates for GOP chairperson are current state party vice chairperson Christian Ziegler and Evan Power, Leon County GOP chairperson.
Hillsborough County GOP Chairperson Dana Galen said they are “both good guys, both have pros and cons,” and doesn’t see a strong preference among local Republicans.
Pinellas GOP Chairman Adam Ross said he and other GOP activists are waiting to see whether Gov. Ron DeSantis endorses one of them.