Ione Townsend scoops up 14 new endorsements for FDP chair
Ione Townshend throws her hat in the ring for FDP chair.

ione townshend
The new endorsements come from those who will actually cast a vote.

Ione Townsend has added to her list of supporters with a number of Democratic State Committee persons from chapters across the state.

Townsend, who has been chair of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party since 2016, has earned endorsements from at least 14 state committee persons from 10 county party chapters in her bid for Florida Democratic Party chair. The endorsements extend from the HCDP’s own two state committee persons to those in Alachua, Brevard, Lake, Lee, Leon, Monroe, Pasco, Polk and Volusia counties.

Endorsements from local state committee persons prove significant in the race for FDP chair. Under the current voting system within the party, the bulk of the votes come from the state committee persons from Democratic Executive Committees across Florida.

However, Townsend has made clear that she intends to reform the current voting system used by the party in an effort to create a more transparent and democratic process. Fewer than 250 people will cast about 1200 votes to decide the new leadership, and about 40% of the voting power is expected to be concentrated in the hands of just 10 individuals.

“My goal for the Florida Democratic Party is to build trust and party infrastructure through integrity, transparency, accountability and an unshakable commitment to representation through vigorous ‘small d’ democracy,” Townsend said in a statement. 

Townsend has also received endorsements from several local party chairs as well, including Pinellas Democratic Party Chair Barbara Scott, Pasco County Democratic Party Chair Kelly Smith and Polk County Democratic Party State Committeewoman Karen Welzel. Rep. Andrew Learned, who was elected under her party leadership, is also backing Townsend.

Townsend faces a notable challenger in the race for chair in former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who has nabbed a number of endorsements since his announcement to run — many from Tampa Bay area Democrats and some of whom endorsed Diaz before Townsend had publicly decided to run.

So far, Diaz has garnered support from Tampa Bay area state Senators Janet Cruz and Darryl Rouson, Reps. Susan Valdes and Diane Hart, and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.

The upcoming election takes place next month to succeed outgoing Chair Terri Rizzo, who has held the seat since 2017. Rizzo is stepping down after Democrats’ poor performance in November, although she will retain her role leading the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.

Also running for FDP chair are Cynthia Moore Chestnut, who leads the Alachua County Democratic Party, and Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida Chair Janelle ChristensenNikki Barnes, who has served as a Democratic National Committee member, is also eyeing the job.

The following state committee persons are supporting Townsend’s Campaign for FDP Chair:

Sam McKee, Alachua County Democratic Party

Sanjay Patel, Brevard County Democratic Party

Stacey Patel, Brevard County Democratic Party

Marcus Klebe, Hillsborough County Democratic Party

Vanessa Lester, Hillsborough County Democratic Party

Alan Harris, Lake County Democratic Party

Mike Bonacolta, Lee County Democratic Party

Nicole Soza, Leon County Democratic Party

Ryler Calabrese, Leon County Democratic Party

Dakin Weekley, Monroe County Democratic Party

Lou Malerba, Pasco County Democratic Party

Karen Welzel, Polk County Democratic Party

Miles Carr, Polk County Democratic Party

Evans Smith, Volusia County Democratic Party

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


  • Richard Thripp

    December 27, 2020 at 12:18 am

    Ione Townsend has my endorsement as Chair of the Volusia County Democratic Party as well. She’s actually in Georgia curing ballots for the U.S. Senate runoffs right now. I hope to replicate her accomplishments in Hillsborough County here at the other end of the I-4 corridor.

  • Michael Hampton

    December 27, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    If I’m not mistaken Cynthia Chestnut is no longer the Alachua County Democratic Party Chair since they had elections on the 9th and someone new was elected.

Comments are closed.


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