Jockeying continues for both announced FDP Chair Candidates, Allison Tant of Tallahassee and Alan Clendenin of Tampa. In the upcoming days both southeast Florida and Central Florida will hold caucus meetings to try and coalesce around a candidate. One source told me this morning that Clendenin has the definite edge in southeast Florida but that could change, and that they would bet on the votes being split in some fashion, but probably with more going to Clendenin. Central Florida has been friendlier territory for Tant, although in an interesting development Clendenin seems to be gaining traction quite rapidly in many of the smaller counties where Tant was thought by some to be strong. Much of the rest of the state is split although Clendenin appears stronger in the larger counties. Tant still retains the support of more high profile elected officials than The bottom line is the race in total flux and could go either way at this point.
Tant recently gained the support of House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, while the Democratic Black Caucus around the same time endorsed Clendenin. The obvious alliances that characterized the earlier stages of the race are beginning to break down. At that time party insiders seemed to be headed entirely to Tant’s court while party activists were assumed to be totally with Clendenin. The last two weeks have seen movement both ways with some insiders considering Clendenin, and many grassroots activists beginning to take a second look at Tant. The situation continues to be highly fluid but the upcoming caucus meetings should give us more insight into where the race is headed. With such a long ramp up to the election, electors taking a second look at the other candidate was to be expected.
The election is set for the FDP State Committee Meeting on January 26th in Lake Mary. At that point the winner will have to make up for lost time and hit the ground running as the GOP has been focused on candidate recruitment and infrastructure building since November 6th, while the Democrats have been looking to select a new chair.