Mitch Ceasar was re-elected chairman of the Broward Democratic Party on Sunday afternoon.
He survived a tough challenge, winning 340 votes to 242 votes for Cynthia Busch. She was later elected first vice chairwoman of the party.
But the biggest news of the day was the end of the party career of Diane Glasser, the second most prominent leader in the Broward Democratic Party as the state committeewoman for 24 years.
Glasser, 84, who's been in the news lately because of the corruption trial of one of her fellow Tamarac city commissioners, stunned the hundreds of Democrats by announcing she didn't want the job again. But when she couldn't procedurally nominate the replacement she wanted, she decided she would in fact seek another term.
Glasser was defeated by Maggie Davidson, a longtime Democratic activist, 285-196. Davidson is president of the Democratic Women's Club of Northeast Broward.
Glasser said she decided more than a year ago she didn't want to serve again and told no one -- including her close ally Ceasar.
“I’m proud of what I’ve done in the last 35 years. I can move on. I can move on. I just thought at this particular time it was time for me to step aside. But maybe it isn’t. Maybe it isn’t. Perhaps we need to put a few people in the corner with a dunce cap on and maybe we’ll survive,” she said after she decided to seek re-election.
As for her decision against another term, she said, “It’s not that I can’t do it, but I’m kind of fed up.”
"Everybody knows I've given my life to the Democratic Party. People realized that experience does count. We really have to focus all our attention on Rick Scott," Ceasar said in an interview after he won.
He attributed the every-four-years challenge to his re-election to Broward being "a large Democratic, urban county that insists on having its say."
Four years ago, the anti-Ceasar forces complained about the election procedures. This year, the state Democratic Party dispatched well-known election lawyer Mark Herron to monitor the races and advise on any issues that arose.
Busch said she had no complaints about the conduct of the election or the validity of the results.
She said she didn't yet know if she would stay involved in the county Democratic Party, where she's served as a committeewoman and area leader or would join forces with activists who are talking about forming a shadow Democratic organization. But just before 4 p.m. she entered the race for first vice chairwoman of the party.
More than 600 committeemen and committeewomen packed Diamante's catering hall for Broward Democratic chairman's election.
It's a contentious affair. Ceasar is seeking a fifth, four-year term in the job. As usual he's facing a tough challenge. It comes from Busch, a Democratic activist who was active in Barack Obama's presidential campaigns.
All the party leadership contests are at stake, including the election for state committeewoman, held by Diane Glasser, the second most powerful person in the local Democratic Party. She's being challenged by Maggie Davidson.
The meeting, scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m., convened just after 2 p.m. Unlike the Broward Republican Party, which didn't allow news coverage of its chairmanship election last week, the Democratic gathering was open to the media.
Attendees are getting a list of rules, including the injunction that each person can cast only one ballot.
There's a potential for 844 voters, the number of committeemen and committeewomen. (Not everyone is here, but proxies are allowed.)
Ceasar won the coin toss, so Busch spoke first and Ceasar last.
Busch presented herself as the candidate who will bring a new way of doing things and breathe new life into a sclerotic Democratic Party.
“I’m asking for you to support my vision for the Broward Democratic Party so that we can take back the governorship from Rick Scott and elect Democrats across the board,”
Touting her background as an activist with the Obama campaign, which had intense and successful grassroots organizing, Busch said committeemen and committeewomen are the most effective tools on behalf of the party.
“The old paradigms of getting out the vote have changed,” she said. Automated robo-calls, formal fundraising dinners and the like are being overtaken by broad, grassroots efforts in which people talk to their neighbors to generate support.
“This party could be something great. We could build something together,” she said.
Ceasar said he has the better experience to lead the party.
“The position of chair is a multi-faceted position. It’s one that requires lots of different attributes,” he said.
Ceasar attributed the 2012 successes – Broward providing a record margin for a presidential candidate which was more than the number of votes Obama won the state by – and the elections of Lois Frankel to Congress, Maria Sachs to the state Senate and Scott Israel as sheriff to a coordinated campaign among state and local parties and the Obama campaign.
“Our only job for the next two years is to defeat Rick Scott. We need to retire the most unpopular governor in the United States,” he said. But that can happen, he said, only if the party maintains its fundraising abilities.
Al DiMaio, a Democratic committeeman and retired political scientist from Long Island University's Brooklyn campus, said the many contests for party leadership spots aren't a surprise. The party includes lots of passionate political activists.
'It's inevitable, especially in the Democratic Party, that there will be differences," he said. "We tend to have a lot of diversity of voices."
State Committeeman, Ken Evans.
Second vice chairwoman, Betty DiMaio.
Treasurer, Diana Piettarelli.
Recording Secretary, Tim Ross.
Corresponding Secretary, Darren Covar.
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