William Rankin of
In a late-night email blast overnight Tuesday, Rankin declared he's seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent CFO
Rankin, who described himself as a veteran, a businessman and lover of Florida, is a political unknown.
He also isn't a regular voter. Records at the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office show that since Rankin registered in Florida in November 2006, he's voted only twice, in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
He's missed all the others, including the 2010 election in which Atwater was elected chief financial officer.
Rankin, 53, said his voting record before moving to Florida was "more robust," but in the 2000s he was often overseas pursuing business interests. "I wasn't really following politics at the time."
He said he was a Republican when he became a Florida resident in 2000, changed his registration to no party affiliation in 2004 when the party "started to move to the right," and became a Democrat in 2012.
Rankin's said he's a retired Army special agent specializing in economic fraud investigations and former director of asset management for the Ohio state treasury. He recently started a security business.
On Oct. 15, he introduced himself at the Broward Democratic Party's monthly gathering, where he received a "pretty good response," said Chairman Mitch Ceasar. "People thought his resume was very impressive."
Florida Democrats have had a tough time finding a CFO candidate. The party had touted Allie Braswell, but he dropped out within days of announcing his candidacy in August after the Florida Times Union reported that he had declared bankruptcy three times.
Atwater was elected with 57 percent of the vote in 2010 and has raised $981,000 in cash and in-kind contributions for his 2014 re-election bid.