TALLAHASSEE — Orange County Democrats have gone with a youth movement to try and recruit candidates and raise cash.

Carlos Smith, 32, a 2003 University of Central Florida graduate, has been tapped to replace Tax Collector Scott Randolph as Orange County Democratic Party chairman.

Smith faced off with party activist Clinton Salter for the job Monday night, after former Democratic House candidate Sean Ashby dropped out earlier this month.

Smith, who currently works as a legislative aide to state Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, has worked on several Orlando-area campaigns, including as a policy fellow for Equality Florida. He also worked for Randolph when he was still in the House.

“I am honored that Orange County Democrats have entrusted me to lead the party moving into 2014,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith will have the daunting — and what could be seen as conflicting — job of recruiting and helping fund candidates running against the Orange County Republicans in the Legislature he’ll be working alongside this spring in the legislative session. He’ll also have to try and find someone to challenge Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs next year.

“A strong party will be critical in preserving the historic electoral gains local Democrats made in 2012 under Scott Randolph’s leadership,” his statement goes on. “We will continue to focus on our core message of championing the middle class, expanding health care, growing our economy, investing in quality public education and reaching out to Orange County’s minority communities to appeal to voters and elect more Democrats.”

In an email Tuesday, Smith said he’s handled the dual roles of his state job and communications director for the county party.

“I’m used to managing both worlds,” he said.

Click here for the story in the Orlando Sentinel.

Orange County Democrats tap Saunders aide as new chairman – Orlando Sentinel
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