Bevy of Mayors backing Manny Diaz’s bid for FDP chair
Manny Diaz

Manny Diaz
Endorsements include Buddy Dyer, Rick Kriseman, Jane Castor, Danielle Levine Cava.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava are among a bevy of municipal executives declaring endorsements for former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz to be the next chair of the Florida Democratic Party.

Diaz’s campaign is announcing the baker’s dozen of endorsements from current and former Florida Mayors on Tuesday, as he works to lock up support from much of the party’s establishment. Last Friday he announced he has the backings of 26 current and former state lawmakers and local officials.

The latest round of Diaz endorsements come from Dyer, who has been Mayor of Orlando since 2003; Levine Cava, who just took office in Miami-Dade County; Castor; Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody; Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Hazelle Rogers; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman; Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber; Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper; West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James; Miami Shores Mayor Crystal Wagar; and Broward County Mayor Steve Geller, as well as former mayors Pegeen Hanrahan of Gainesville,  Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, and Philip Levine of Miami Beach.

Diaz is running to replace Terrie Rizzo, the Florida Democratic Party’s current chair, who announced last week that she would not seek reelection. Diaz, a lawyer who was Mayor of Miami from 2001-’09, announced his candidacy for the position Dec. 1.

The candidates’ field is getting crowded. Other announced candidates include former lawmaker Cynthia Moore Chestnut of Alachua County, Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida President Janelle Christensen, and former Democratic National Committee member Nikki Barnes. Still more are said to be testing the waters.

They want to lead a party that still has a statewide advantage in voter registration and growing strength is metro areas, yet which is struggling with finances and elections failures. Democrats just suffered across-the-board election disappointments in the Nov. 3 General Election.

“As a former Mayor of Tampa, I know the challenge and work it takes to not just transform a city, but do it in a way that invests in every single community, leaving no one behind and that’s what Manny did as Mayor of the most diverse city in Florida,” Buckhorn stated in a news release issued by Diaz’s campaign. “The experience of a Mayor as an executive, getting real things done that improves the lives of everyday people is unparalleled. It is Manny’s experience and his dedication to rebuilding the party from the ground up that make him the absolute best candidate for the job and why I am so proud to be supporting him in this effort.”

Wagar credited Diaz with making Miami “the world-class city we know, love and represent today.”

“Just like he did as Mayor, Manny has a plan and is committed to doing the work to elect Democrats up and down the ticket, which includes year-round organizing and making sure we’re investing in communities across this state to leave no voter behind,” she added. “We can win but the work starts now and Manny is ready for the job.”

“Florida Democrats need leadership that will invest everywhere, like in the city of Sarasota where we are electing Democrats at the local level and building a great bench for higher office. But that takes work, organizing and investment, and for that reason, I’m supporting Manny Diaz to be the next FDP chair,” Brody said.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


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