The Florida Democratic Party was feeling extremely good about itself last fall. The Sunshine State narrowly went for Barack Obama once again in the presidential race, and for the first time in three decades, they actually added to their relatively anemic number of members in the state Senate.
But more than nine months later, they look utterly unprepared for the 2014 elections.
With grand fanfare last week, the party announced that it had a credible candidate to challenge Jeff Atwater for Chief Financial Officer next year.
But that candidate, Allie Braswell, dropped out of the race today after news surfaced about three bankruptcy events that came to light last Friday.
"The bright spotlight of a statewide campaign has cast the ups and downs of my life into harsh relief, and I now know that this campaign is not the way I was meant to serve my community," said Braswell, the President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League since 2010 and a former U.S. Marine. "Running statewide is a daunting challenge for any candidate; as a political outsider, I have now learned that I underestimated how my campaign would affect those I care about most."
A little more than 24 hours after Braswell announced his candidacy last Thursday, the Jacksonville Times-Union reported
that he had filed for bankruptcy three times in two different states dating back to the mid-1990s. The most recent filing was in October 2008, where records showed he had $324,325 in assets and $509,155 in liabilities.
Nobody looks worse out of this debacle than Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant, who said last Thursday, “I am thrilled that Allie Braswell is running for Florida’s CFO, because he’s exactly the kind of leader we need in Tallahassee."
But today, it was her counterparts at the Republican Party who were making noise, deriding the Democrats for being hapless.
In a statement, RPOF chair Lenny Curry chortled, "Allie Braswell had better sense to drop out than Allison Tant did to endorse him. To back a candidate in charge of Florida's finances without vetting that candidate's handling of his personal finances shows either a high level of incompetence or a new level of desperation for Allison Tant. Now, Florida Democrats are laying out the red carpet for another former Republican, Charlie Crist, who oversaw Florida's economic collapse. This further proves that Allison Tant and Florida Democrats have no positive policy agenda to articulate."
Like Crist, who is still expected at some point this year to announce his candidacy for governor, Braswell was also a former Republican turned Democrat. Also like Crist, Braswell said the "Republican Party left me behind."