Terrie Rizzo is the new Florida Democratic Party Chair – Florida Politics (blog)
Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Terrie Rizzo is the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party, easily defeating Brevard County Democratic Chair Stacey Patel on Saturday in Orlando. The final tally was 830-291 in Rizzo’s favor.
What had been a three-person race turned to two just before the final vote at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando when Hillsborough State Committeewoman Alma Gonzalez stunned many in the crowd by announcing that she was withdrawing her nomination and would be supporting Rizzo.
Rizzo’s election victory caps off a lightning quick campaign that began just 22 days ago, after now former chairman Stephen Bittel resigned on Nov. 17, following a published report alleging he had engaged in inappropriate and demeaning behavior toward women.
Rizzo began organizing immediately, and released a statement last week indicating that she was building up an insurmountable lead in pledge votes. Gonzalez supporters countered that, but when Florida Senator Bill Nelson weighed in this week with his endorsement for Rizzo, it was clear where the party establishment stood in the race.
Patel was the outsider in the contest. She announced on Nov. 21 that she would enter the race if she could get some upfront support in terms of funding for her campaign as well as donor and volunteer commitments in 2018 by Nov. 27. She received those commitments from her supporters, and then formally entered the contest.
Monica Russo, the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Florida State Council, had been a forth unofficial candidate in the race, but bowed out earlier this week. Because of the FDP eligibility rules that require candidates for the chair to be either a local party chair or committeeman or committeewoman, Russo was never officially in the race, though she spoke vaguely about hoping