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Alan Clendenin, of Tampa, seeks Florida Democratic Party chair

8:04 PM, Jan 23, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Although Alan Clendenin has never run for public office, the 53-year-old says he's been around politics his entire life, including volunteering for the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign when he was just 15 years old. He's been working behind the scenes helping Democrats get elected ever since.

So why then is he running to become the chair of the Florida Democratic Party?

"I am someone who wants to lead the Florida Democratic Party for what I consider all the right reasons. I just want to affect the change that makes our party more effective, more organized and ready to win elections," Clendenin said.

Clendenin, who retired in December after 30 years as an air traffic controller, says those changes are spelled out in a 17-page plan he's posted online.

He says his plan will re-brand, re-organize and recruit for a more inclusive Democratic party. Part of that plan, Clendenin says, includes regionalizing the state party.

"What I want to do is break those ties of the Tallahassee bubble that exists within the party insiders and the lobbyists and the vendors and this incestual world that has developed in Leon County and I want to bring the party back down where it belongs and that's the people."

If elected, Clendenin would become the first openly gay state party chair in Florida. But he is quick to say he doesn't want to be the focus. Instead, he says that needs to be on defeating Gov. Rick Scott in 2014 while also fielding strong candidates at all levels of government.

"We're never going to regain the majority in the state of Florida if we are standing on the shoulders of a sea of locally elected Republicans. Democrats have to change that and focus on all 67 counties."

The FDP election is this Saturday in Orlando. Clendenin vows if he wins he will not to use the chairmanship as a springboard for another position down the road. A move applauded by the Chris Mitchell the chair of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party.

"He's running to do something for this party, not to be something after he leaves office and I think with Alan we have an opportunity to have a very dynamic leader, someone that will commit 100% of his time to making sure that we have an organization and a party that will get more democrats elected," Mitchell told 10 News.

Clendenin also promises if he wins he will not make any endorsements in any democratic primaries during his term as chairman.

His opponent in Saturday's race is Allison Tant, who is supported by Sen. Bill Nelson and DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

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