Former State Senator Dwight Bullard will not be able to run for chair of the Florida Democratic Party. Bullard’s failed bid for Miami-Dade Committeeman is a blow to progressives across the state.
The seemingly minor race for a Miami-Dade leadership role went national this week because the future of the Florida Democratic Party hangs in the balance. Dwight Bullard had to win the seat in order to compete for state party chair; his loss clears the way for real estate developer and major party donor Stephen Bittel. Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison is a frontrunner to chair the party’s national committee, and like Bullard he was a strong supporter of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Ellison's high profile, last minute endorsement of Bittel came as a surprise, says Democratic Progressive Caucus Chair Susan Smith.
“We just don’t think he should’ve endorsed at all. And I’m not sure he understood the lay of the land when he did endorse,” Smith said.
Smith says her caucus will hear from Bittel and Bradford County Committeeman Alan Clendinen before considering endorsing a candidate in the race to replace out-going chair Allison Tant.
“We feel like our role at this point is to let everyday Democrats, rank and file Democrats know the candidates, know what they stand for, and know what their vision is for the state party organization,” Smith said.
Bittel’s win underscores a rift among the state’s mainstream and progressive democrats, at a time when the party is scrambling to recover from this year’s historic losses.