Bernie Sanders Archives - Florida Politics

Bernie Sanders to join Andrew Gillum for Tampa, Orlando rallies

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is coming to Florida to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum.

The Gillum campaign announced late Tuesday that the Senator from Vermont will join Gillum at two rallies on Friday — less than two weeks away from the Aug. 28 primary.

The first of the rallies is set to take place in Tampa, where Sanders and Gillum will speak to voters at 11 a.m. in Armature Works — Gathering Room. In the afternoon, the two will head to Orlando for a 2 p.m. rally at the CFE Arena at UCF.

Sanders endorsed Gillum at the beginning of the month, christening him as the progressive option for Florida voters.

“As governor, Andrew Gillum will work to provide health care for all through a Medicare-for-All program, raise the minimum wage to a living wage, invest in sustainable energy, improve education, make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and be welcoming to immigrants,” Sanders said then.

With respect to the Democratic field, Gillum faces former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, billionaire investor Jeff Greene, former Mayor of Miami Beach Philip Levine and Orlando businessman Chris King. Most recent polls have shown Gillum trailing Graham, Levine, and Greene, though a large swath of likely Democratic voters still haven’t picked their candidate yet, according to the same polls.

Whether a rally could give the Tallahassee Mayor the much-needed boost is unknown.

On the Republican side, candidates Adam Putnam, the Agriculture Commissioner, and Ron DeSantis, the Congressman from Ponte Vedra, were “virtually tied,” according to a Florida Chamber poll in July.

But that was before President Donald Trump endorsed DeSantis on Twitter (for the second time) and came to Tampa to rally on the Congressman’s behalf. Now DeSantis appears to be firmly in the lead in the Republican primary.

Trump, however, is battle-tested against Florida’s electorate. He captured 45 percent of the party’s vote in the Republican primary in 2016. Sanders, in the same primary, lost to Hillary Clinton, who captured more than 64 percent of Democratic votes.

Bill Nelson too old for office, GOP super PAC suggests

A Washington-based super PAC backing Republican Senate candidates dispensed this week with what had been more subtle campaign hints aimed at U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s age.

In a news release titled “Bill Nelson Tragically Forced to Admit His Memory Is Failing,” the Senate Leadership Fund pointed to Nelson saying a day earlier that he couldn’t recall a 2010 letter he wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about delaying the implementation of water-quality standards for Florida lakes, springs and other waterways.

“It’s time for Bill Nelson’s caretakers to keep better tabs on the Senator’s whereabouts and public statements so that he is not embarrassed into admitting he’s no longer dealing from a full deck,” Senate Leadership Fund spokesman Chris Pack said in the release.

The news release came amid an increasingly nasty race between Nelson, a Democrat, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott for Nelson’s Senate seat.

The eight-year-old letter by Nelson, along with one written around the same time by Scott, also added to a fierce political blame game over water-quality problems across South Florida.

Nelson’s campaign called the super PAC’s news release “a desperate attempt to distract from Rick Scott’s record of cuts and deregulation that helped create this toxic algae crisis.”

Nelson is 75; Scott is 65.

Susan MacManus, a distinguished professor of government and international affairs at the University of South Florida, said such age-based attacks are becoming less effective.

“Look at younger voters’ support for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and longer life expectancies among older voters,” MacManus said. “What polls are showing is more effective in an era of voter disgruntlement is candidates’ longevity in office rather than their sheer age.”

Scott, a two-term governor, has worked to make Nelson’s lengthy political career, which started in the Florida House in 1972, an issue in the contest.

Asked Tuesday — the day before the super PAC news release — about Scott’s campaign making “subtle hints” about his age, Nelson responded with some indignation.

“Any time he wants to have a contest about push-ups or pull-ups, and we’ll see who is not up to it,” Nelson told reporters before a dedication ceremony at a Tallahassee veterans’ health-care center.

When asked Tuesday about his 2010 letter to the EPA, Nelson said he would need to look up the issue.

“Not only do I not recall that, that simply could not be true,” Nelson said. “There must be a nuance there. So, I’ll have to look at it and see.”

In the letter to the EPA, Nelson wrote: “Clean water is a goal we all share,” adding that he was sharing the concerns of residents, businesses, farmers and local governments about the “potential cost of compliance with these standards and the validity of the science.”

“That is why it is imperative that this regulation is finalized in a deliberative manner, utilizing sound science and considering the effects of implementation,” Nelson wrote in the letter. “Rushing to finalize the rule could result in further uncertainty and unnecessary economic hardship for municipal governments and Florida industry.”

His campaign noted that Nelson annually has hundreds of pieces of correspondence.

Nelson’s letter was similar to a lobbying effort by Scott against the proposed changes after he was elected governor in a November 2010. In a letter, Scott called the changes in water-quality standards “onerous” and requested a delay “so that we have time to fully analyze the rule” and its effect on Florida.

And after Nelson’s claim this week that Russian agents “penetrated” at least some U.S. voter registration systems before the 2018 election, the Department of Homeland Security all but said it didn’t know what Nelson was talking about.

“While we are aware of Sen. Nelson’s recent statements, we have not seen any new compromises by Russian actors of election infrastructure,” said Sara Sendek, a spokesperson for the department. “That said, we don’t need to wait for a specific threat to be ready.”

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Senior Editor Jim Rosica contributed to this post from The News Service of Florida, republished with permission.

Andrew Learned pitches ‘Medicare for All’ in first CD 15 ad

Valrico Democrat Andrew Learned is out with his first TV ad in the crowded race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, saying he’ll fight for “Medicare for All” if elected to fill the open seat currently held by retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross.

The 15-second spot, titled “Human Right,” features the Navy veteran shaking hands with his would-be constituents and throwing shade at U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as he vows to support the aforementioned health care solution championed by independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The short script for the ad: “In Congress I’ll fight for ‘Medicare for All,’ because health care is a human right,” Learned says. “We need to protect our health care from Republican attacks. I’m Andrew Learned Democrat for Congress — it’s time for a new generation of leadership.”

In a press release announcing the new ad, Learned reached across the aisle with a personal anecdote as he said health care was the most important issue of the 2018 cycle and that “Medicare for All” was a solution people of all political persuasions could get behind.

“If anyone tells you this election is about anything other than health care, they haven’t been paying attention,” he said. “My mom is a lifelong Republican, but she has been a hospice nurse for decades and she supports Medicare for All. In the richest country in the world, no one should die because they can’t afford treatment. That’s why I am fighting for Medicare for All and a new generation of leadership — one that puts principles over politics and will fight for what is right.”

Proponents of “Medicare for All,” analogous to single-payer, would bring health care access to all Americans regardless of their income. A recent study from a Koch Brothers-funded conservative think tank found the proposal could save Americans up to $2 trillion over the next decade, however, the study’s principal author claimed that was a misrepresentation after Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, seized on that figure.

Learned’s ad comes a couple weeks after his chief opponent in the CD 15 Democratic primary, Kristen Carlson of Lakeland, started hitting the airwaves with a 30-second spot touting her role in exposing and stopping out-of-state orange juice manufacturers tampering of Florida products.

Learned and Carlson are running alongside Coast Guard veteran and former police officer Ray Pena to become the CD 15 Democratic nominee. Until recently, the seat was considered safely Republican, but the political handicappers at the Cook Political Report recently shifted their assessment from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.”

CD 15 is split between Hillsborough and Polk counties, with about 10 percent of the district’s voters living in Lake County. The district voted plus-10 for Donald Trump two years ago.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face one of five Republican candidates seeking their party’s nomination for the post. The best known among them are former state Rep. Neil Combee and current state Rep. Ross Spano, who led the primary field by double digits in a recent poll.

Learned’s ad is below.

Bernie Sanders backs Andrew Gillum for Governor

Andrew Gillum has earned a big-time endorsement in the Florida Governor’s race, as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced he is supporting Gillum’s bid for the Democratic nomination.

Sanders was seen as an icon of the progressive movement during his run against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign. Now, he says Gillum is the best person to carry that progressive mantle forward in Florida.

“As governor, Andrew Gillum will work to provide health care for all through a Medicare-for-All program, raise the minimum wage to a living wage, invest in sustainable energy, improve education, make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and be welcoming to immigrants,” said Sanders.

“Andrew has never backed down from a fight, including beating the NRA and standing up against xenophobic politicians. Andrew Gillum will set a new course for Florida — a governor who represents all the people and not just powerful special interests.”

Though Sanders ran in the Democratic Party primary in 2016, he officially identifies as an independent. He describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”

It’s an honor to have Senator Bernie Sanders’ endorsement in this campaign,” said Gillum.

“He has been an unapologetic fighter for everyday working people standing up to the special interests. From Medicare-for-all, to a $15 minimum wage, his ideas and platform have become the Democratic Party’s north star on economic justice for those who need it most.”

Sanders was recently named the most popular senator in America, according to Morning Consult.

Whether that popularity will translate into a boost for the Gillum campaign remains to be seen. But he needs a jolt, if polls are any indication. Recent surveys show Gillum near the bottom of the five-candidate Democratic field.

Sanders’ endorsement, however, is energizing those already supporting Gillum. Several spoke out after hearing the news.

In 2018, we need to nominate a Democrat for Governor who has the progressive vision, energy and record to motivate voters who sat out previous elections,” said state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who founded and leads the state Legislative Progressive caucus. He’s also endorsed Gillum in the primary battle.

“Like Bernie, Mayor Gillum has never shied away from his progressive values, and he is the candidate who can unite this party and consolidate a winning coalition this November,” added Smith.

“Senator Sanders called for a political revolution, and that’s exactly what we will get by nominating Mayor Andrew Gillum,” added state Rep. Shevrin Jones. “We need candidates across this country to improve the lives of marginalized people. With Andrew Gillum primed to win in August and November, we will finally have a governor who would invest in our communities and put our people first.”

Gillum says he is ready to lead, should voters make him the state’s first Democratic Governor in 20 years.

As Governor, I promise to get up every single day ready to fight for a state that puts working people first; that makes affordable health care a right for every Floridian; and a state that is powered by its people.”

Direct mail roundup: ‘Strange friends’ funding Michael Caruso’s HD 89 bid

A new mailer hitting Palm Beach County mailboxes alleges Delray Beach Republican Michael Caruso has some “strange friends” bankrolling his bid to succeed term-limited Rep. Bill Hager in House District 89.

“What do failed politician Michael Caruso and these people have in common?” The front of the mailer reads, alongside pictures of Caruso and three high-profile national Democrats — U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“Strange friends,” the mailer answers, borrowing from the title card of the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”

The reverse side of the mailer highlights a $1,000 contribution Caruso received in November from the Boca Raton-based Herb Law Firm. That contribution is significant, the mailer claims, because named partner James A. Herb filed suit in 2016 to have then-candidate Donald Trump declared mentally unfit to be president.

While there’s no record that Herb or his law firm have donated to the Democratic politicians pictured on the front of the mailer, the ad says the common thread between the four politicians are that “they’ve all been funded by anti-Trumpers!”

The mailer was paid for by Integrity in Leadership, a political committee chaired by Carl G. Roberts that has brought in more than $30,000 in contributions since it was set up on June 30.

Caruso faces Boca Raton attorney Matt Spritz in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for HD 89, which covers a portion of Palm Beach County’s coastline from Singer Island to Boca Raton. Running for the Democratic nomination are Jim Bonfiglio of Ocean Ridge and Ryan Rossi of Boca Raton. Unaffiliated candidate Deborah Gibson has also qualified for the ballot.

Through July 20, Caruso had a lead in overall fundraising with $66,770 in outside money and another $210,000 in candidate loans. He has $195,000 in hard money at the ready. Spritz had about $102,000 in hard money through the same date, with another $34,000 available in his affiliated political committee, Invest in Florida.

The seat leans Republican and has been held by Hager since it was redrawn 2012. He was unopposed in his 2016 re-election run, when the seat voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

The mailer is below.

Bernie Sanders groups back David Richardson

Two Bernie Sanders-affiliated political groups threw their weight behind David Richardson in a South Florida Congressional race, strengthening his progressive credentials in a Democratic primary against Donna Shalala.

Our Revolution 305 and Our Revolution Puerto Rico, chapters of the political action organization formed out of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, both endorsed Richardson, a Miami Beach state representative, in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

“The standard-bearers for Bernie Sanders are lining up behind my campaign because I am the true progressive choice for Florida’s 27th Congressional District,” Richardson said. “People in Miami, Puerto Rico, and across the country are sick of the same cold corporate establishment Democrats, and I will bring new ideas and progressive change to Congress.”

The endorsements come on top of backing from the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida and Progressive Democrats of America.

Richardson has worked to present himself as the true progressive in the race since the entry of Shalala, the former University of Miami president and the Health and Human Services Secretary under President Clinton.

He’s also made particular efforts to reach of to Puerto Rican voters, who are expected to play a greater-than-usual role in elections this year following a mass migration of citizens displaced last year by Hurricane Maria.

Richardson conducted a listening tour of Puerto Rico in May, he said, and has since appeared on Puerto Rican issue forums alongside U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat, and state Rep. Robert Asencio, a Miami Democrat. Both Soto and Asencio are among the 30-plus federal and state lawmakers to endorse Richardson.

Shalala still leads the Democratic field in terms of fundraising, with more than $1.13 million in cash on hand. Richardson boasts about $762,000 and Matt Haggman, most recently the Knight Foundation’s Miami program director, has around $746,000. Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez has upward of $81,000 in cash on hand. Michael Hepburn has $180.

The district has been identified as one of Democrats’ top pick-up opportunities this year following the retirement of longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Joe Clements: The ‘big picture’ predictions on Election 2018

This cycle, our firm has worked with dozens of Republican campaigns from Cabinet positions to Congress. One advantage of our workload has been an opportunity to see the results of dozens of polls and focus groups conducted by several national and Florida-based research firms.

Without sharing specifics on data, campaigns or researchers, I want to give a few of my big picture ideas and predictions about what is happening this cycle in Florida.

After I analyze an article of research, I keep notes in a document, which eventually provides an outline for the macro trends I notice across research products. The items below are extracted almost verbatim from my notes and I hope they help provide some context for the current cycle.

Andrew Gillum is underestimated by establishment Republicans and Democrats. Democratic activists are angry about Donald Trump and want someone who shares their anger. In a crowded primary, Gillum has a built-in advantage with African-American voters and has a clear play to voters under 35 years old. He is also hurting Philip Levine and Gwen Graham by pushing them further left.

– The Democratic left flank is the single most underestimated factor of this election. Bernie Sanders was not a fluke. For the first time in a century, there is a true socialist/social justice/leftists voter group on the left with a clear guiding philosophy that pulls and energizes the rest of the party. The problem for Democrats is that their left wing is as far, if not further from center, then the Republican right.

– The Republican conservative right has replaced the role of philosophy (conservatism) with personality (Trump). There is no longer a uniting philosophy on the right outside of populist nationalism. Republican voters appear to differentiate between Trump and other Republican candidates but do want to see reflections of Trump in their candidates.

– Trump is equal parts headwind and tailwind for Republicans. Lower propensity Republican-leaning voters do appear eager to cast a proxy vote in support of him. It’s not clear the same energy exists to cast protests votes against Trump among lower propensity Democratic voters.

– College educated suburban and urban women are going to be the Achilles’ heel for Republicans. These women previously leaned Republican but dislike Trump and will vote Democrat if a good option is available. These “Whole Foods Moms” are the 2018 manifestation of the 2004 “Soccer Moms.” They still vote for security and safety, but Parkland, not 9/11, is now their marquee fear.

– Republicans have work to do on immigration. The issue is considered vital among the Republican base but general election voters think Democrats would do a better job handling the issue.

– Democrats have a real shot at Attorney General. They have decent candidates and room to use populist messaging that appeals to Republican segments on “Big Pharma,” “Big Sugar,” and “Big Insurers.” This race will be the clearest square off between an economic growth message and a populist message.

– Millennials are likely to comprise a significant portion of the electorate for the first time this year as they’ve aged into their thirties. My prediction is that men will break slight Republican and women will break hard Democratic.

– Guns won’t be the watershed issue in the general. Both sides will use the issue to drive turnout but it does not appear to be the strongest issue with moderate voters. We are likely to hear a lot about jobs and the economy come October.

– Floridians are generally optimistic about Florida’s path, which is favorable for incumbent candidates and parties, but Democrats and Republicans live in different worlds on the issue. Republicans are happy, Democrats are not happy, and NPA voters lean happy. Democrats really need the economy to slump and Republicans need it to keep growing.

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Joe Clements is co-founder and CEO of Strategic Digital Services, a Tallahassee-based tech company. He is also co-founder of Bundl, a campaign contribution management app.

Donald Trump ad disses ‘disgraceful’ Democrats for SOTU ‘disrespect’

Donald Trump maligned what he called “disgraceful” Democrats in a new campaign ad Tuesday.

The specific Democratic disgrace: not applauding POTUS during the State of the Union.

The campaign ad, per a campaign media release, “displays the predictable and consistent, yet utterly disgraceful, behavior of Democrat Members of Congress as they reacted to President Trump’s first State of the Union Address to the nation.”

The spot, which builds on an assertion that non-clapping Dems were “treasonous” this week, depicts what the media release calls “the unprecedented expressions of disrespect” from Democrats, with shots of the scowling visages of Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders.

“President Trump’s State of the Union address was so profound that even the mainstream media called it ‘strong’ and ‘inspirational,’” said Michal S. Glassner, Executive Director of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

“Yet, our ad demonstrates that the unprecedented expressions of disrespect shown by the Democrats towards our people and our country were also profound – for the wrong reasons. The breathtaking indifference in reaction to President Trump’s calls for unity and to the President’s bold stories of freedom-loving heroes speaks for itself. The Democrats just sat there, and they were disgraceful,” he concluded.

Not all Democrats refused to applaud President Trump’s address.

Notably, North Florida Democratic Rep. Al Lawson applauded Trump.

Trump lauded Lawson.

“Who was that guy? He was a nice guy. I think he was a reverend. And he was clapping,” Trump said this week. “And I wouldn’t say it was exactly a rousing — but he was putting his hands together.  And I want to find out who he is.  I’m going to send him a letter of thank you.  And he was probably severely reprimanded.”

Darryl Paulson: President Oprah Winfrey?

Is Oprah Winfrey seriously considering a run for the presidency in 2020?

If so, will Americans support another celebrity politician with no political experience after the disaster known as Donald Trump?

If you ask me whether I would prefer having Trump or Oprah as a neighbor or a dinner companion, it is clearly Oprah. Ask me which one I would prefer having as president, the answer is neither.

I opposed Trump as president because I found him neither to be a Republican or a conservative. Most importantly, I found Trump to be uniquely unqualified to be president. Nothing has happened in his first year in office to change my opinion.

I would oppose Oprah Winfrey for the same reasons. She is extraordinarily successful; so was Trump. She is a billionaire; so is Trump. She has no political experience; neither did Trump.

Politics may be the only career where experience is considered a weakness. I hope you don’t choose your heart surgeon using the same criteria.

For those who argue that Oprah could not do any worse than Trump, I would argue that it is a low standard on which to judge a candidate. In addition, we won’t know if Oprah would be better or worse than Trump until she holds the position.

Supporters of Oprah argue that she is far more likable than Trump. She has consistently been rated among the most admired women in America. So was Hillary Clinton, and that did not help her in her presidential campaign.

Although Winfrey has no formal political experience, she did help secure passage of what is known as the “Oprah bill,” or the National Child Protection Act, which set up a national database of convicted child abusers.

Winfrey has given away tens of millions to support various causes, including the construction of 60 schools in 13 nations. One of those schools was the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

Winfrey has strong ties to two critical Democratic constituency groups, women and African-Americans. This could be an asset in a presidential race.

Even many Republicans see Winfrey as a strong candidate. Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, stated that Oprah is “more sensible on economics than Bernie Sanders, understands middle-class Americans better than Elizabeth Warren, is younger than Joe Biden and nicer than Andrew Cuomo.”

Oprah Winfrey’s negatives are long. Will American support another celebrity candidate with no political experience, or will they see her as a left-wing version of Trump?

Voters often select someone who is the opposite of the person occupying the White House. Will Oprah be seen as more of the same?

As a longtime media personality, every statement Winfrey has ever made will be reviewed and analyzed. How many times will we hear: “And you win a car. Everyone wins a car?”

A recent piece by Robert Tracinski described Winfrey as “our nation’s premier snake oil salesman.” Gwyneth Paltrow pushed her coffee enemas, Suzanne Somers offered her hormone therapy and vitamin treatments, and Jenny McCarthy attacked vaccinations for children on Oprah’s show.

Oprah created Mehmet Oz as “America’s Doctor.” Dr. Oz has recommended so many controversial cures that his colleagues at Columbia University wrote an op-ed saying that over half of his recommendations lacked scientific underpinnings. “Many of us are spending a significant amount of our clinical time debunking Oz-isms regarding metabolism game changers.”

Oprah is a successful person who has been a voice for the voiceless. Is that enough to qualify her as a presidential candidate?

Oprah’s elevation as a presidential candidate may simply signal the weakness of the Democratic Party and its pool of presidential candidates, just as Trump’s candidacy signaled the debacle that is now the Republican Party.

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Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg specializing in Florida politics and elections.

Alma Gonzalez gets key support for Florida Democratic chair, but not from all progressives

The race for the next Florida Democratic Party chair is not quite a done deal.

In a statement Tuesday, Terrie Rizzo said she has 70 percent of the 182 votes needed to win the nomination. However, Hillsborough County’s Alma Gonzalez is touting new endorsements from the state’s Democratic black, Hispanic and Caribbean caucuses. And Brevard County’s Stacey Patel is getting some love from progressives in Gonzalez’ home territory.

The three women are all in the running to lead the party in an election scheduled to take place Saturday in Orlando. The SEIU’s Monica Russo is technically not eligible to compete for the seat, but she is hoping for a change in the bylaws to become the fourth official candidate in the race.

Rizzo, the Palm Beach Democratic DEC Chair, announced new endorsements that she says proves that she is getting closer to having the votes to win the nomination, but Gonzalez says the race is extremely fluid and that she’s seen far too many FDP elections to know that commitments made before the election can change by the time the votes begin to get counted. And she says that the groups whose caucuses backed her today make up well over half the voters who vote in primary elections in Florida, making her “super excited.”

“I am deeply honored to have the support of these caucuses and the Democrats that they represent,” said Gonzalez. “They represent the New American Majority and their voices, issues and leadership will have prominent seats at the table if I am elected chair.”

However, several members of the Tampa Bay Progressive Coalition told Florida Politics that they’re backing Patel, the Bernie Sanders-supporting Brevard chair who is the insurgent candidate in the campaign.

Susan Smith, Jessica Vaughn, Scott Shoup, Beth Shoup, Michael Deloach, Jennifer Hart, Emily Bur, Marcus Klebe, Russell Giambrone, Jackie Simpson, Becca Fiore, Russell Hires, Beau Robichaux and Nina Tatlock all say that they are supporting Patel.

“The great thing about being a Democrat is that we all get to be who we want to be,” Gonzalez responded. “There are going to be individuals who support somebody else’s candidate, and that’s what the beauty of democracy is.”

Gonzalez serves as a Committeewoman for the Hillsborough DEC, but one member of the local Progressive Coalition expressed frustration with her role there, saying she didn’t represent the entire DEC’s stance on some issues, such as the “one party, one vote issue.”

Florida is the only state in the nation whose votes are weighted in state party elections for the chair, meaning not a one man/woman one vote. Advocates say that is in direct violation of Democratic National Committee rules.

When asked about this, Gonzalez admits that it was an issue between her and many Hillsborough DEC members.

“I said to folks I think that we need to have a full debate, and I am not prepared to take a definitive stance in favor of something that I don’t understand,” she says. “I will not push forward on something until I get it. I’m really fortunate because as I’ve said that, openly and transparently and as clearly as I could, lots of folks said, this is what we need, and this is what’s important to us, and I’m so grateful to them for sharing that with me openly.”

It’s not the first time that Hillsborough Dems haven’t back one of their own for party chair. A dispute about the local bylaws of the Hillsborough DEC thwarted Alan Clendenin from winning the race for state committeeman a year ago, leading him to temporarily move to a far distant northeastern small county to make himself eligible for the party chair election.

Clendenin finished second to Miami-Dade’s Stephen Bittel, who resigned last month after it was reported that he had made demeaning comments to women. His resignation triggered the election.

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