TAMPA — Democratic candidate for governor Nan Rich, who’s challenging Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary for governor, appears to have lost a round in her battle for respect from the state Democratic Party.
The party’s finance chairman, prominent Broward County lawyer Andrew Weinstein, will remain in that voluntary post despite Rich’s complaints that he helped set up a fundraiser for Crist.
Party officials usually are expected to remain neutral in their party’s primay contests.
As the Tampa Tribune reported Tuesday, the day of the fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale, Rich said she was told in conversations with state party Chair Allison Tant and executive director Scott Arceneaux that Weinstein had been asked to resign from the voluntary position as the party’s top fundraiser.
Democratic Party spokesman Josh Karp confirmed at the time that party officials had had conversations with Weinstein but said the party was “not prepared to make an announcement.” Weinstein didn’t return phone messages for comment.
The state Republican Party immediately called it another example of what it calls “chaos” among Democrats.
On Wednesday, however, party officials took a different tack.
Karp said the report that Weinstein was asked to quit “captures an instant in a much longer conversation between several people, which involved some misunderstandings,” and blamed the confusion in part on Republican “spin.”
Weinstein said in an email that he expects to remain as party finance chairman.
Rich confirmed again Wednesday that she was told Weinstein had been asked to quit.
“I didn’t ask them for his resignation, but I called to voice concern about the neutrality of the finance director because that’s something that’s expected,” she said. “I spoke with the (Tant and Arceneaux) and they said they had asked for his resignation. I haven’t spoken with the chair since then, and I don’t know what their conversation was after that.”
Weinstein was a major fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s campaigns, credited with raising at least $500,000 in 2012, and a member of Obama’s national fundraising committee. He has been party finance chairman since February as part of a restructuring of party fundraising by Tant, also an Obama fundraiser, after she became party chairman in January.