A defiant and angry Paul Chandler declared Friday he has not withdrawn from the House District 44 special election and is weighing his options as he and the Democratic Party reach open warfare over the party’s wish to replace him.

Chandler had said in a press release and on social media on Tuesday that he would be dropping out of the the Oct. 10 race after state and Orange County party leaders urged him to. The party leaders were worried he could be ruled ineligible to run, based on a lawsuit challenging his qualifications filed by a Republican in the district.

But since then Chandler has lashed out out the party leaders, saying they pressured him when he still thought he had a chance to win both the lawsuit and the election.

“With the feedback of grassroot supporters who actually believed in our campaign, I am still considering options,” Chandler said in a statement to Orlando-Rising.com Friday afternoon.

The Democratic leaders were hoping Chandler would be out by Friday to give them time to name a replacement candidate in time to get the new nominee’s name on the absentee ballots, which could start going out this weekend.

The Democratic in-house battle is great news for the Republican nominee, Winter Garden businessman Bobby Olszewski, who won a tumultuous primary Aug. 15, and already holds advantages in a district that has a strong Republican lean and a history of being owned by Republicans. The seat came open only because Republican incumbent state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle resigned this spring to take a judicial appointment.

“I have not filled [paperwork to withdraw] yet with the [Florida] Secretary of State’s office,” Chandler declared in a statement.

Now the Democratic Party also is weighing its options.

“Paul Chandler announced his intentions to the voters of District

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