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Hillsborough Dems back Clendenin

Posted Dec 4, 2012 by William March

Updated Dec 5, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Several prominent Hillsborough County Democrats are continuning to back Alan Clendenin of Tampa for state party chairman, despite the entry into the race of a new candidate who appears to have backing from from the state’s top elected Democrats.

Clendenin, a veteran party activist, is running against businesswoman and Democratic fundraiser Annette Taddeo-Goldstein to head the state party, but Allison Tant of Tallahassee, a former lobbyist and key fundraiser for President Barack Obama, also entered the race this week.

Sen. Bill Nelson, the state’s top elected Democrat, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who’s also national Democratic Party chairman and an ally of Obama, have both issued supportive statements on behalf of Tant, though they stopped short of outright endorsements.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the Hillsborough County Democratic executive committee unanimously re-elected Clendenin as the local party’s male delegate to the state party governing board, a necessary step for him to be eligible to run for state chairman.

At the same time, Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Clerk of Court Pat Frank reaffirmed their support for Clendenin for state party chairman.

Castor, who’s also a key Obama backer, put out a statement backing Clendenin’s plan for reorganizing the party to capitalize on and attempt to repeat its success in the Nov. 6 election.

Clendenin also has been endorsed by Hillsborough and Pinellas County elected Democrats including state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, Reps. Janet Cruz, Dwight Dudley and Darryl Rouson and others.

In Clendenin’s view, the race is a contest between Tallahassee insiders and grass-roots Democrats. Tant, however, could have strong advantages in the race. Backing from top elected officials and fundraising ability are among the most important qualifications for any candidate for a political party post.

Story on Tant entering the race here.

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