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Tant wins Leon Dems chair, can now run for state chair

Posted Dec 13, 2012 by William March

Updated Dec 14, 2012 at 12:18 AM

Prominent Tallahassee Democratic fundraiser Allison Tant was elected chairman of the Leon County Democratic Party Thursday night, making her eligible to run for state party chairman against Alan Clendenin of Tampa.

The election, at the Leon County Democratic Party’s meeting Thursday night, is a win for national party figures including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who’s also national party chairman, and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who are backing Tant for state chairman.

In order to be eligible to run for the state post, she first had to win a county-level office.

Veteran Tallahassee party activist Jon Ausman had been expected to run for county chairman against Tant, which could have prevented her from seeking the state post if he’d won. But under pressure from the national party, the two reached a deal by which Ausman instead ran for the post of the county’s male representative to the state party governing board, known as the state committeeman, and backed Tant for county chairman.

Tant, a former lawyer and lobbyist married to prominent Tallahassee lawyer Barry Richard, was a key fundraiser for President Barack Obama during the 2012 and 2008 elections.

Clendenin, a long-time activist and officeholder in the Hillsborough County Democratic Party, has been running for the state chairman’s office for sevedral months. Also expected to compete for the state job is Miami-Dade County Democratic Chairman Annette Taddeo-Goldstein.