Allie Braswell, New CFO Candidate, Plays Down His Prominence After Trayvon Death
Around the State
Allie Braswell announced Thursday that he will run for the Democratic nomination to challenge Florida’s CFO Jeff Atwater -- but he and the Florida Democratic Party tried to ignore his role in the aftermath of the Travyon Martin shooting as he launched his candidacy.
Orginally from Sanford, Braswell currently leads the Central Florida Urban League and served in the Marine Corps during the Gulf War. He also worked for Walt Disney World as a diversity manager and with technology. As he kicked off his candidacy Thursday, he played up those credentials.
“It’s time for change in Tallahassee -- for leadership that will stand up for the people of this state,” Braswell said in a statement. “We need a leader who will help protect taxpayers by cracking down on huge contracts that politicians are handing over to their supporters and political allies. I’ll be a fiscal watchdog who will hold our government and politicians accountable and fight to shift the focus of our leaders away from helping their friends and back to attracting good jobs to Florida.”
“I’m not a politician,” Braswell said. “But what we’re getting out of politician Jeff Atwater is a go-along-to-get-along style that is hurting Floridians. Under his watch, billions in no-bid contracts have been given away and people with insider connections are getting rich off taxpayer money.
“Many ‘working class’ Floridians have been without a voice in our government,” Allie added. “The people of Florida have been forced to live with rising insurance rates, private contractors defrauding taxpayers and a crisis of confidence in the politicians running our state. I will stand for the people of Florida against waste, fraud and abuse in Tallahassee, and fight to achieve social and economic success for every Floridian.”
Brian Hughes, spokesman for Atwater, responded by using a service perspective to compare the candidate and the incumbent. "Mr. Braswell and Democrats want to focus on politics well over a year before Election Day. Jeff Atwater is focused on serving Floridians by working to bring relief to insurance ratepayers and fighting the consumer fraud that steals from seniors and families."
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry also slammed back at Braswell and the Democrats behind his candidacy, for the new candidate's sharp critique of Atwater.
"Refuting the ridiculous talking points from Democrats about Jeff Atwater is easy to do," Curry said. "People simply need to take a look at Jeff's record as a tireless watchdog of taxpayer money and a defender of consumers. Discussing his unparalleled record as a reformer and his accomplishments on behalf of taxpayers is a conversation we look forward to having."
The Florida Democratic Party, nevertheless, cheered Braswell entering the race.
"I am thrilled that Allie Braswell is running for Florida's CFO, because he's exactly the kind of leader we need in Tallahassee,” Allison Tant, the chairwoman of the Florida Democrats, said Thursday. “We need a leader who will fight the politicians who are giving taxpayer money to their donors and friends. Floridians deserve a leader who will fight to hold government accountable, and attract new jobs to our state.
"Floridians deserve better than Jeff Atwater, who is looking out for the big special interests -- not middle class Floridians,” Tant added. From the Marines to the corporate boardroom to the streets of Orlando, Allie has always served his country and his community. While an executive at Disney, Allie cut budgets without cutting jobs. As the CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, Allie turned around a struggling organization. I'm proud he's running for CFO."
There was no mention from either Braswell or the Florida Democrats of the new candidate’s prominent role in the aftermath of the Martin shooting. Braswell was a leading voice calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman and for repealing the state’s Stand Your Ground law. Polls shows most Florida voters approve a jury finding Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Martin and favor keeping Stand Your Ground. In his many media appearances during the aftermath of the Martin shooting, Braswell even said the Stand Your Ground law gives Floridians more clearance to fire a gun than he did as a Marine.
Braswell’s connections could also come under fire. Republicans across Florida have ripped Jesse Jackson for calling Florida an “apartheid state” after the Zimmerman decision. Republican officeholders -- from Gov. Rick Scott to legislators -- have demanded apologies from Jackson and have brought up previous comments he has made, including calling New York “Hymietown.” Braswell marched with Jackson in March 2012, demanding justice in the aftermath of Martin’s death. Braswell also spoke at forums with both Jackson and Sharpton and demanded Zimmerman be arrested and the Sanford Police Department be investigated.
By the end of June, Atwater, who filed to run for a second term at the start of July 2011, had raised more than $195,000, spent more than $14,300 and relied on more than $366,550 through in-kind donations.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.