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Elizabeth Belcher resigns as chair of Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Elizabeth Belcher, chairwoman of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee for the past 11 months, has resigned from her position, effective next month. She made that announcement at the party’s monthly meeting in Ybor City on Monday night, where she said it had been a great year, but was now time for her to move on.

Belcher was elected without opposition to chair the party this past December, where she succeeded Michael van Hoek.

There will be an election to replace her in January.

Among the names being floated to replace Belcher, none is more prominent than Mark Hanisee, the former chair of the Pinellas County Democratic Party from 2011-2014. Hanisee lost his bid for re-election to the Pinellas chairmanship this past December to Susan McGrath, but found a welcoming home in Hillsborough, where he became a major fundraiser for the party in 2015 in his role as development director.

“I’ve had a number of people approach me, from the officers and leaders of the party and I said, ‘Well, if everybody wants me, I’m willing to do it,'” Hanisee said on Wednesday.

Hanisee says he’s helped raise more than $100,000 for the Hillsborough Democrats this year, a big boost for a party that has struggled to fundraise for a number of years.

Although he grew up in St. Petersburg, Hanisee said he lived in Tampa and had a career in insurance in Tampa before moving back to Pinellas County. He says he’s been treated with open arms since working for the party this year, and calls the Hillsborough Democrats “a great group.”

Belcher has been involved with the DEC since 2008. She became more involved with local politics after retiring from a 27-year career as a special agent with the IRS. She has twice run for office, losing out to Victor Crist for the Hillsborough County Commission District 2 race last year. In 2012, she lost a bid for the Senate District 22 race to Republican Tom Lee.

In her brief comments with SPB on Wednesday, Belcher was noncommittal about whether she would continue to stay with the party.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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