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.