Thurman quits as Florida Democratic Party leader

By: AP
By: AP

TALLAHASSEE -- Karen Thurman announced her retirement as Florida's Democratic chairwoman Friday, just 10 days after the party took a drubbing in this year's election.

Some Democrats began calling for her resignation just hours after the results were in, including state Sen. Jeremy Ring of Margate.

"I am absolutely devastated at what happened to the Democratic Party," Ring said. "There was no coordinated effort out there. ... There was a sea of Republican volunteers out there."

Republicans swept all statewide races -- governor, U.S. senator, attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner -- and picked up four congressional seats. Democrats also lost five seats in the Florida House and two in the Senate as Republicans built veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

Democrats also began discussing possible successors to Thurman immediately after Election Day. They include Rod Smith, who has said he may be willing to take the job.

Smith is a former prosecutor and state senator from Alachua, a small town near Gainesville, who this year was the losing candidate for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket as gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink's running mate.

They were defeated by Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott and Lt. Gov.-elect Jennifer Carroll. It was the closest statewide race this year and the closest governor's race in Florida's history.

Others whose names are being mentioned include outgoing House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands, Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman Mark Siegel, Hillsborough County state committeeman Alan Clendenin and Miami-Dade County Democratic Chairman Richard Lydecker, who has the support of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Nelson is now the Democrats' only statewide officeholder.

Thurman didn't mention the election losses in a two-page letter to party leaders that announced her decision to leave after six years on the job. She wrote that she was looking forward to spending more time with her family.


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