Monday, October 8, 2012

Hillsborough County Democrat says he'll drop out of HD 58 race unless local party chair leaves

Posted By on Mon, Oct 8, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Jose Vasquez
  • Jose Vasquez
This fall, there are certain legislative races in Hillsborough County that are not competitive.

One of them would be the House District 58 race between Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson and Brandon Democrat Jose Vasquez, in a redrawn district seat that's roughly the one held by Republican Rich Glorioso for the past eight years. It's been expected to stay in Republican hands, so the Dems have spent little time and attention on it.

Last week, the Hillsborough County party removed Vasquez from its website. Yesterday, in a bizarre and frankly illiterate press release, Vasquez called on Hillsborough County Party Chair Chris Mitchell to step down by 5 p.m. today. If not, Vazquez said he'd step down.

"The Puertorrican and Democrat Candidate for State House of Representatives District 58, Jose Vazquez, want the Chairman of the Hillsborough Democrat Party, Chris Mitchell resign to his position tomorrow before 5 pm. If Mitchell not quit Tomorrow, On Tuesday October 9, 2012 at Noon Jose going to withdraw his race," Vasquez wrote in a release sent on Sunday.

Vasquez made the news four years ago when he ran as a write-in candidate in House District 58 against then Democratic incumbent Michael Scionti, while still serving time in prison for a felony conviction of driving with a revoked or suspended license in May 2007.

This morning, Mitchell told CL that the party removed Vasquez from its website because it wasn't "confident" in his campaign. Otherwise Mitchell generally avoided speaking about what specific issue prompted the party to dissociate from the candidate.

A press release sent out overnight by the party stated:

The Democratic Party always desires to offer the voters of Hillsborough County a real choice in every election. To that end, the Party strives to recruit qualified, committed and ethical candidates. In Florida, though, any person who is a registered member of a given political party can pay the filing fee and run as a candidate in that party's name. Because of this, the Party may not have knowledge of the individual, his qualifications, commitment to public service, or ethical orientation. Mr. Vazquez was not recruited as a candidate by the local Democratic Party; hence, we are unable to speak with confidence regarding his motivations for running - or for withdrawing - from the race.

Mitchell said he will not step down.

Cl spoke to Vasquez this morning. He said friends recently told him that he was no longer listed on the party's website, and he's upset that the party is dropping any support for him.

"I’m a member of the Democrat Party and I believe in the conviction in the party about giving a chance to any person to follow the American dream," Vasquez said.

He said he believed Mitchell didn't like that he is an ex-con. Vasquez said he's no criminal, despite his record.

"He is no one to judge me," Vasquez said of the party chair.

He added that he has not spoken to Mitchell before or since he was scrubbed from the site. The only money Vasquez raised was $2,105 from himself.

Ballots have already been sent out to absentee voters, so Vasquez will be on the ballot.

Mitchell wasn't certain if any Democrat would run in his stead, but it's doubtful that they will find a replacement 29 days before the election.

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