Hillsborough County Committeeman Alan Clendenin says he will back Rod Smith if he wants Florida Democratic Party Chair gig

In just the past few days there's been a lot of jockeying for position among so called favorites in the race to replace Thurman, who today is still officially the party chair, and has not commented on her future, though it's been widely reported that she never intended to go beyond 2010 as party chair.

The Miami Herald 's Beth Reinhold reports that Bill Nelson's hand picked choice, Richard Lydecker, the chair of the Miami-Dade County Democratic party, was considered a favorite, but that is no longer the case.  And the Reid Report's Joy-Anne Reid is reporting about fresh support in South Florida and in African-American circles for Clarence Anthony, the longtime mayor of South Bay (which is approximately 45 miles west of West Palm Beach).

You can read Alan Clendenin's prescription for reviving the Florida Democratic Party that he posted on his website last Saturday. Clendenin said that rebuilding starts at home, and said he's excited about the Hillsborough Democratic Party selecting a new Chair and Vice Chair at their meeting next month.

There have been a plethora of various Democrats whose names have been tossed around all week as possible candidates to succeed Karen Thurman as the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, with a lot of mainstream love being tossed out to give the impression that Rod Smith is the man to beat.

Among the other candidates listed by political reporters in Florida has been that of Alan Clendenin, a Democratic National Committeeman and a Hillsborough County State Committeeman.

In a conversation with CL Thursday morning, Clendenin says that up until the last 36 hours, he had been courting support and believed he was a leading contender for the position, but is now backing away with the news that Rod Smith may be interested in the job as well.

Clendenin said initially he had no ambition to be a candidate, but by last weekend he began calling people throughout the state in the Democratic Party, and had built up "a groundswell of support," for his candidacy, believing he might have been the front-runner for the position.

But everything changed for him yesterday, he said, when he learned about Rod Smith's interest in the position.

"If Rod Smith is willing to step up and take the reigns of the party, I'm 100% behind his candidacy," Clendenin says, saying  he will take his name out of consideration if Smith announces he's totally into being a candidate.

But is Smith the best candidate?  The former Alachua County Legislator and state prosecutor has been on the losing side of the last two causes he's been involved in - losing out to Jim Davis for the party's nomination for Governor in 2006, and of course, just last week, when he was rumored to be Alex Sink's running mate and was seen starting ahead stoically when Alex Sink conceded last Wednesday in a Tampa hotel ballroom.

After posting earlier in the day that the gig appeared to Smith's for the taking, the 60-year-old contacted Mark Caputo with the Miami Herald later in the day to tell him it might not be the greatest idea.

"I've had conversations, several since Monday," Smith said, declining to name names. "I'm not sure the job is mine. And I'm not sure I would take it if the job were offered. These are tough times for the party, so I need more time and I need to talk to more people. Obviously, the devil's in the details."

Alan Clendinen says that if Smith chooses not to run, that he would expect Smith's support.

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