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 Christensen. Nikki 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