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Florida Democratic Party chair not seeking re-election


By Stephanie Denardo — WUFT-FM

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After serving as the chair of the Florida Democratic Party for two years, Rod Smith is not seeking re-election when his term ends in January.

The committeeman for the Alachua County Democratic Party, Smith announced earlier this year that he planned to complete his term through the election cycle but would not run for re-election.

Smith is also well-known for his work as the state attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit when he prosecuted Gainesville serial killer Danny Rolling in 1992.

“I had only agreed that I would do this for the term of this election, which I had signed onto,” he said. “I’m actually completing a term that was started by someone else, and I only had agreed to complete that term from day one….And then when my son took ill, I announced — that was back in August — that I would not be seeking re-election.”

Smith’s son was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, which has influenced his decision to not run for re-election.

“My focus is on my son getting well, and I have made that clear to everybody,” he said. “Until my son is well, I don’t have any other focus in terms of public life.”

The Florida Democratic Party State Executive Committee will hold a meeting in January to elect the new chair.

Hoping to fill Smith’s state position is Alan Clendenin, who currently serves on the Democratic National Committee and the Hillsborough County Democratic committee.

“I believe that he will re-brand the party better, that he will run campaigns better from a grassroots effort through local candidates,” Nicolas Janovsky, a coordinator for Clendenin’s campaign, said. “And (he’ll) build a better bench talent and bring more financial resources to the party.”

Clendenin’s goal as chair will be to bring Democrats back to power in Tallahassee, Janovsky said.

“With our close governor loss in 2010, we have an opportunity to take back Tallahassee from the Republicans,” he said. “Alan Clendenin will be the best person to lead the financial efforts to retake Tallahassee for Democrats.”

Hana Engroff wrote this story online.

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