On Monday, Braswell stepped down less than a week after he declared his candidacy. It was revealed that Braswell had been involved in three personal bankruptcy proceedings, almost too ironic for a man who wanted to be the chief financial officer of the state.
"It's unfortunate that he was in that situation, but candidates and individuals that declare they want to run for office, they self-declare," said Alan Clendenin, first vice chair of the Democratic Party of Florida.
But wasn't Braswell recruited by state party officials?
"No, he expressed an interest on his own. He came and met with party officials. He had his own organization," Clendenin replied.
Yesterday, Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp told the Jacksonville Times-Union,
“We advised Mr. Braswell to slow down so he could better prepare .He was very eager to announce and it’s clear now he was unprepared for mounting this kind of campaign."
Republicans say otherwise.
This morning, RPOF chair Lenny Curry kept up the pressure on Democrats, writing in a press release, "The Florida Democratic Party's explanations of (party chair) Allison Tant's endorsement of Allie Braswell are misleading at worst and shows complete incompetence at best. They need to answer the following questions. Did Allison Tant actively recruit Braswell or not? If Democrats claim to have told Braswell to slow down his announcement, why did they not tell Tant to slow down her endorsement? And what exactly did they know about Braswell before last Thursday? Unlike the Florida Democrats, we did our research and their explanations simply don't add up."
On Monday night, CL asked Clendenin if party leaders are concerned that they're losing the momentum they acquired last year (even though the gubernatorial election is still a year away)?
“We’ve seen plenty of examples of last minute entries where they have been successful ... so right now, anybody who wants to run for governor, they’re doing the things that they need to do to prepare," Clendenin replied.
He mentioned Nan Rich's candidacy, and said that Charlie Crist is "doing things behind the scenes as he’s exploring an opportunity to run."
"You know sometimes these races are too long, but it’s really important for us to organize locally to make sure that we turn our voters out so regardless of the person carrying the torch for the Democrat party at the top of the ticket in 2014. We have to make sure that we have an infrastructure together ready to help that person get elected," Clendenin said.
Clendenin, who lost to Tant in January to succeed Rod Smith as party chair, said the party's goals are to ensure that 2014 is not like 2010 — it was only three years ago when a lack of Democratic enthusiasm brought on a GOP tsunami, not just in Florida, but nationally. To that end, the vice chair said he's feeling good about things, beginning with fundraising, which he said is where the party is outflanking the state GOP. He said the party is meeting its goals in getting voters registered as well.
He also said that the party is looking at some of the Democrats who are competing in next week's municipal election in St. Petersburg as potential stars, specifically mentioning Rick Kriseman, Darden Rice and Amy Foster as soon to be members of the state's "farm team".
"That farm team may not be ready for a state wide race in 2014, but we start looking in 2016 and 2018, these are candidates that we’re going to start looking toward and we’re grooming them right here in our backyard," Clendenin said.
Although officials with the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) are still reveling in the aborted CFO campaign of Allie Braswell, state Democrats are blowing it off as no big thing.