Terrie Rizzo is the latest leader of the Florida Democrat Party (FDP) to leave the chairmanship under a cloud of discontent and allegations of fraud.
Rizzo announced she would not be running for reelection earlier this week in a letter to the party.
During her three-year tenure, the FDP came up short in the 2018 Governor’s race, lost a U.S. Senate seat, and, last month, Rizzo led her party to a trouncing in Florida, both in the Presidential election and down ballot.
During the 2020 election cycle, controversy swirled when it was alleged the Democrat Party allegedly circumvented federal rules to secure a $780,000 federal loan through the COVID Paycheck Protection Program.
Rizzo joins at least three out of the last six Florida Democrat Party leaders to have slinked out of office. Her predecessor, Stephen Bittel, resigned with his tail tucked between his legs after a half dozen female staffers and consultants alleged he created an uncomfortable work environment.
In 2005, Scott Maddox resigned as FDP chairman to launch an unsuccessful bid for Governor of Florida. During his tenure, the Internal Revenue Service hit the state Democratic Party with a federal lien because it failed to pay almost $200,000 in payroll and Social Security taxes while Maddox was in charge. The party also could not account for more than $900,000. Since then, Maddox has pleaded guilty to several of the 44 fraud and “pay for play” charges that resulted from an FBI investigation into corruption while Maddox served on the Tallahassee City Commission.
Yesterday, Janelle Christensen, President of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, announced she is running for FPD Chair. Her announcement follows that of former Miami-Dade Mayor Manny Diaz. Others are also reportedly considering a run at the chairmanship. Some names batted about include former Democratic National Committee member Nikki Barnes, former state Rep. Adam Hattersley, Orange County Chair Wes Hodge, and former gubernatorial candidate and Lieutenant Governor nominee Chris King.