Orange County Democrats are taking stock and looking ahead after Tax Collector Scott Randolph announced he was stepping down from his other high-profile job as local party chief this week.
Randolph wants teacher and former failed state House candidate Sean Ashby to take over his spot. Internal elections to fill Randolph’s post are expected to take place on Oct. 21, but no other vocal contender has emerged so far, several party regulars say.
Doug Head, a past chairman, said he’s been asked to run again, but won’t. Former Orange County Clerk of Circuit Court write-in candidate Randy Ross has been mentioned as a potential replacement, and the marketing executive said he would consider it.
Another name floated, former county Commissioner Bill Segal, was shot down by his former aide and mayoral campaign chief, Eric Foglesong. Segal could not be reached.
Head said Tuesday night he’s not aware of any other active contenders, and he wants to see Ashby’s plans before he backs him or looks elsewhere.
Others have noted that Ashby is not on the party’s leadership board, so is ineligible to take over as chairman. Randolph said this morning that he’s checking on this concern, but said he would delay the election and his formal resignation if it became an issue.
An election “may be delayed, but it’s going to happen,” he said.
Head said the party has been on “cruise control” this year under Randolph. Head says there’s little in the party’s coffers, and several state and local offices still have no sure-fire Democrats lined up to run, most notably for Orange County mayor.
State Rep. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, said being tax collector is a full-time job and so is the party chairman in 2014, an election year.
“He realizes this fact,” Stewart said. “I’m sure there are plenty of candidates to take his place.”
Stephanie Porta, executive director of the progressive group Organize Now, credited Randolph with helping secure Orange’s first ever citizen initiative campaign, which collected 50,000-plus voter signatures to put a paid sick-time referendum to voters in 2012.
“Though the county commission broke the law and prevented earned sick time from being voted on by local citizens, the campaign would not have been as successful as it was, and still is into the 2014 elections, had it not been for Scott Randolph’s leadership,” she said by email.