SSN on Facebook SSN on Twitter SSN on YouTube RSS Feed



Race for FDP Chair Grows as Judy Mount Drops Out, Terrie Rizzo Declares Candidacy

November 20, 2017 - 12:00pm
Judy Mount and Terrie Rizzo
Judy Mount and Terrie Rizzo

State Democrats are gearing up for their time in the limelight -- and a short-lived campaign trail -- as they prepare for the race to replace Florida Democratic Party chairman Stephen Bittel as the head of the state organization.

Monday saw a new wave of contenders for the job, which was recently opened after six former Democratic party staffers and consultants told Politico Florida Bittel, who had served as party chair for only 10 months, had exhibited “creepy” and “demeaning” behavior which led to a wholly unprofessional work environment. 

The story broke late Thursday evening -- by midday Friday, Bittel had announced he’d be resigning, which he officially did Monday. 

Some FDP party officials were quick to jump the gun and throw their names in the ring to replace Bittel. 

FDP Vice Chair Judy Mount was one official who said she was interested in the job, even going so far as to prematurely declare herself interim party chair despite party bylaws saying otherwise. 

On top of deeming herself the head honcho of the FDP, Mount said she was definitely going to run for the position, pointing to a promising future ahead for Democrats and the need to stay on track.

“I think the Democratic Party is at a good place,” Mount said Friday. “It would be horrible to see someone come and disrupt that.”

On Sunday, Mount’s cart-before-the-horse approach was revealed by Sunshine State News -- by Monday morning, Mount announced she was out of the race, saying “powers at be” told her not to run. 

But when one person dropped out, another quickly swooped in to take her place. 

On Monday, Palm Beach County Democratic Party chairwoman and DNC representative Terrie Rizzo said she was going all in for the chairman position, declaring she would work “tirelessly” and lead with “unparalleled motivation” to help Democrats declare victory in 2018.

“Florida Democrats must continue to move forward, build on the Democratic enthusiasm we’ve generated in cities and counties across the state, and now more than ever, we need an experienced and steady hand at the ​whee​l​,” she said. “I believe my work as Chair of the Palm Beach Democratic Party, as the elected Chair of all Florida Democratic County Chairs and as a current DNC representative from Florida have prepared me well to be that steady hand, and I will work with full dedication and commitment for that purpose.”

Rizzo could be joined by two other Democratic party activists in the race, one of whom was particularly vocal over her dissatisfaction with Bittel over the weekend.

Duval County committeewoman Lisa King is another person whose name has been floating as a contender. If King runs, she’d be back for a grudge match -- she ran against Bittel for the job in  January but lost. 

King hasn’t minced words when it comes to criticizing Bittel, who women said made suggestive comments and had a reputation for womanizing behavior. 

Lisa King
Lisa King

“I did my research on Bittel and took a measure of his character. He did not have the qualities I could support to lead any organization in which I had a say. I felt so strongly about it, I ran myself” King wrote on Facebook Sunday. “This is a failure of leadership on so many levels. We must truly learn from this or we will fail again. ALWAYS speak truth to power.”

Monica Russo, president of SEIU Florida, is also swirling as a possible contender, though she is currently ineligible for the position.
Hillsborough County activist Alan Clendenin said he was going to run for the chair job as well, but Clendenin faces one problem: he’s not eligible either. 

Clendenin tried his hand at running for FDP chair last year, even moving from Hillsborough County to a trailer in Bradford County to make himself eligible for the job. Ultimately, he didn’t end up making the cut and Bittel was elected instead. So Clendenin moved back to Hillsborough County. 

There’s no word on whether he will move yet again to try and make himself a candidate for the job, but while the race is still young, time is running out. 

Democrats will meet Dec. 9 to officially elect their new chair. 



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments are now closed.

Live streaming of WBOB Talk Radio, a Sunshine State News Radio Partner.