Tampa, Miami Democrats vie for reins of state party
TAMPA - So far, the race to be the chairperson of the state Democratic Party is shaping up as a battle between Tampa's Alan Clendenin and South Florida businesswoman and Democratic activist Annette Taddeo-Goldstein. A Sanford native and veteran Democratic activist, Clendenin is a Hillsborough County delegate to the state Democratic Party executive committee and a Florida delegate to the Democratic National Committee. He's an air traffic controller and active in the controllers union. Clendenin said he wants to see the state party duplicate the voter turnout mechanism built by the Obama campaign in Florida and to "nationalize" the governor's race, meaning draw support from across the nation."I want to make sure Democrats nationwide know Florida is a firewall, and to break through it, we have to take that governor's mansion," he said. Taddeo-Goldstein is a Miami-based Democratic fundraiser and party activist who was involved in the presidential campaigns of President Barack Obama and Sen. John Kerry. She operates a translation service catering mostly to businesses. Before she can run for state party chairwoman, Taddeo-Goldstein must hold a post in her local party organization, which she doesn't yet. She expects to win election Monday night as chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party. Taddeo-Goldstein said she decided last summer to run to replace retiring Miami-Dade County Chairman Richard Lydecker and then was persuaded by supporters to seek the state position, too. She ran unsuccessfully against Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 2008 and for a Miami-Dade County commission seat in 2010. Taddeo-Goldstein said the party's main challenge is to maintain the momentum of the recent election while holding or increasing its domination of black and Hispanic votes. "It's a very important goal to continue that momentum into a nonpresidential year," she said. "We need somebody who can unite our party. I'm very good at bringing people together, keeping the peace." Current state Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith has announced he won't run for re-election. The election to replace him, to be held among members of the state executive committee, will be at a party meeting in Orlando on Jan. 27.
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