Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo claims she’s lined up “nearly” half the votes needed to become chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party.
But one of Rizzo’s rivals, Hillsborough County Democratic State Committeewoman Alma Gonzalez, says she expects a “very fluid process” between now and the party’s scheduled Dec. 9 election.
So far Rizzo, Gonzalez, Brevard County Democratic Chairwoman Stacey Patel and Service Employees International Union Florida President Monica Russo have said they want to replace former chairman Stephen Bittel, who abruptly resigned this month amid accusations of inappropriate behavior toward women.
Russo isn’t eligible to be state chair under current party rules, but will seek a bylaws change before the vote.
There are 1,204 possible votes for state chair, meaning a candidate would need 603 to win in the highly unlikely event that every eligible voter showed up for the Dec. 9 election.
Most votes are weighted by population (Miami-Dade County’s committeeman and committeewoman control 62 votes apiece, for example, while Palm Beach County Committeewoman Deidre Newton and Committeeman John Ramos get 41 each and tiny Hendry County’s representatives get only 1 apiece). There are also 178 votes controlled by elected officials. Sen. Bill Nelson gets 42 votes — 21 for himself or his proxy and 21 for his designee, former FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant. Nelson, who backed Bittel last year, hasn’t announced a preference.
Rizzo, who lives west of Boynton Beach and has chaired the county party since 2012, today announced 11 more endorsements. In all, she has been endorsed by 33 people who account for about 250 votes.