Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chris Mitchell will run again for Hillsborough County Democratic Party chairman

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Hillsborough County was one of a handful of the most contested areas in the country during the presidential election. As is now commonly known, the region voted in sync with the country in choosing the next president, which has been the case every time save one (in 1992) since 1960.

What hasn't been discussed much is that the president's margin of victory in Hillsborough County was more than double of what he accomplished in 2008.

Obama won by three percentage points over John McCain in 2008. Last week, he won by seven points over Mitt Romney.

On Wednesday, the man leading the Hillsborough County Democratic party during this election cycle, 28-year-old Chris Mitchell, announced that he will run for another two-year term.

In addition to winning the county for Obama and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, Hillsborough also elected Craig Latimer as supervisor of elections and re-elected Kevin Beckner to the County Commission. And in what Mitchell said was a "double victory," Bob Henriquez was elected over Republican Ronda Storms in the battle to succeed Rob Turner in the property appraiser's office.

Mitchell's 2014 goals are lofty: getting the Republican-leaning Board of County Commissioners to go blue. The Board of County Commissioners' make-up is five Republicans and two Democrats.

"We will a have a very viable challenger against Ken Hagan," promised Mitchell, regarding the current commission chair.

He also said the Dems hope to take the countywide District 7 seat that will be vacated by a term-limited Mark Sharpe. Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern already filed to run for the seat, and there is speculation that other Democrats might join her.

In 2010, Democrats in Hillsborough and throughout the state had their clocks cleaned by Republicans, a memory that last week's successes can't mask. Mitchell said 2010's lack of a sufficient turn-out by Democrats was partly responsible for Rick Scott's victory, and he vows that won't happen in 2014.

While Democrats will undoubtedly be fired up to try to take down Scott, won't they suffer by not having Obama at the top of the ticket? Mitchell said he's aware of that concern, which is why his goal next year is coalition building with other like minded liberal groups that were involved in this election's Obama victory.

He said one issue that animates a lot of Democrats is the elections reform bill passed in the GOP-led Legislature that reduced the amount of early voting days and — until it was struck down by the courts — restricted the time that third-party registration group, like the League of Women Voters, had to turn in new registrations.

He said he believes HB 1355 backfired on the Republicans who were hoping it would limit the support for Obama.

"A lot of people I talked to in the minority community saw this as an infringement on their rights, almost like a civil rights issue, which it is," Mitchell said.

In the press release touting his candidacy, Mitchell said the party raised more than $108,000 this election cycle, "marking the first time we have done in more than a decade."

Chris Cano is the only other declared candidate opposing Mitchell as head of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee.

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