Alan Clendenin, who nearly became chairman of the Florida Democratic Party two years ago, is considering a run for elected office for the first time.
The 55-year-old State and Democratic National Committeeman from Tampa says he is considering a run for the open Hillsborough County Commission District 6 race, but says it could be another office. He’s just not sure at the moment.
“I’ve had a lot of people approach me on that,” he told Florida Politics on Tuesday night, where he was attending the Ready for Hillary fundraiser at Mise en Place in Tampa. “I’m not going to make a decision in the very short term. Probably towards the beginning if the summer. And [decide] where I can best serve.”
Clendenin also serves as the First Vice Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, a position he was offered after he came in second to Allison Tant in an intense battle for party leadership in January of 2013. The final tally was 587 to 507. To say it was “spirited” would be an understatement, as Democrats attacked Democrats each other online and in print in the weeks leading up to the vote (as this piece I wrote for Creative Loafing called “Florida Democrats race to the bottom” reflected).
But Clendenin shook off the loss immediately, and has continued to work to try to help Democrats get elected in Tallahassee and Hillsborough County. He’s a 22-year member of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee.
“Hillsborough County is a really fascinating place,” he said enthusiastically on Tuesday. “I’m a lifer here. I love the area and the town, I just thought that I’m looking at that open (County Commission) seat, looking at the issues we’re facing on transportation and all this incredible unrealized opportunity and how I can best serve that and make some of that true I’d like to be a part of it, but I’m not close to deciding.”
Clendenin began his Democratic activism as a 15-year-old in 1975 in high school as a volunteer for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. A few years ago he retired after 30 years as an air traffic controller. He says now is the time for the first point of his life where he can think about running for office, as opposed to “helping other folks pursuing their agendas and goals.”
“And now because of my life, I have the latitude,” he says. “My kids are grown, I’m retired, I have the time to focus on things. I’m financially secure, so I don’t need a job. I can kind of pursue things that I did not have the luxury of doing before.”
The Hillsborough County District 6 seat will be vacated next year by a term-limited Kevin Beckner, prompting speculation that there could be a number of Republicans and Democrats who are contemplating a run. It is the only countywide seat that will be on the ballot in 2016.