Cynthia Chestnut throws her hat into the ring for Florida Democratic Party chair
Cynthia Moore Chestnut

The Alachua County leader was Gainesville's first Black woman Commissioner.

Cynthia Moore Chestnut, an Alachua County Democratic leader and former lawmaker, announced she’s running to lead the Florida Democratic Party. She stressed a need for better candidate recruitment for the party to find its way to political success.

“My experience at the grassroots level in the  Florida Democratic Party will be my guiding vision to ‘Re-energize, Reclaim & Recruit’ Democrats as  we move forward,” Chestnut said. “As a proven leader with a strong record of party leadership, I feel confident meeting  this moment with an even hand and resume of results.”

If Chestnut is elected, it would put a Black woman in charge of the party at a time of growing demand nationwide to grant that demographic, the most reliably Democratic voters in the nation, greater say in the direction of the party.

The Gainesville Democrat currently serves as Democratic Party of Alachua County chair. She has held a number of public offices through the years as well, and was the first Black woman elected to the Gainesville City Commission and as Mayor-Commissioner there. She was also the first Black state Representative for Alachua, Marion or Putnam counties and the first Black woman elected to the Alachua County Commission.

In her capacity as county chair, Chestnut said she has worked to build a bench of Democratic candidates in Alachua, a largely rural county, but home to the University of Florida.

In addition to leading the local Democratic Executive Committee, Chestnut has been involved in state politics and leads the Democratic County Chairs Association.

Her family has long been close to Andrew Gillum, the most recent Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Florida. She has been an advocate for years for marginalized communities and the working poor, and promised to continue efforts to lift up young talent.

Her Re-Energize, Reclaim, Recruit platform, she said, will bring a needed restructuring to FDP, which just suffered embarrassing losses statewide. Those came in an election where Democrat Joe Biden won the race for President by flipping five states President Donald Trump carried four years ago even as Trump’s lead tripled in the Sunshine State.

Current FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo announced last week she’s not running for another term. Former Miami-Dade Mayor Manny Diaz and Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida President Janelle Christensen both have also announced bids for chair. Former Democratic National Committee member Nikki Barnes also told Politico she is running.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Jackson Ribler

    December 7, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    Quick correction: Manny Diaz was mayor of the City of Miami, not Miami Dade county

  • Biden's Black Card

    December 8, 2020 at 9:08 am

    “If Chestnut is elected, it would put a Black woman in charge of the party at a time of growing demand nationwide to grant that demographic, the most reliably Democratic voters in the nation”

    Which is 100% why she won’t get the job. If you vote for the same party no matter what, you have no power. The Dems can take her demographic for granted all day long with no repercussions. Manny Diaz brings a lot more to the table

  • Mary Pallone

    December 11, 2020 at 8:09 am

    The Democratic leadership, if there is any, needs to get it together and work on 2022 elections. I just spent 15 mins searching for contact information to email the party. I didn’t find one, even on the party’s website. I am a lifelong Democrat and cannot believe the lack of focus of the party. Meanwhile, Florida is reverting back to a confederate state. There are so many issues the Democratic Party could be speaking out on right now and gaining positive attention. We should be promoting candidates but the party is fighting among themselves. This is so disappointing. I posted here for lack of any means of direct communication to anyone who might be in charge. Get it together!

  • Dorothy Jackson

    December 12, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    I agree with Jackson first , and Mary Second.
    Several years ago, A White man with money decided he wanted to be the Chair, experience. They told everybody who was a Democrat to vote for this man who had money. Less than a year or two he was gone.
    Now comes a man with a Hispanic name, he is already the winner…because money is behind him.
    And, as it relates to getting in touch with the “FDP office “ , I gave up years ago.
    I think the Internet has destroyed a person in place to simply answer the telephone.
    Dorothy Jackson

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn