Two Democrats in the Senate Could Make Solid CFO Contenders

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: January 8, 2014 3:55 AM
Jeff Clemens and Jeremy Ring

Jeff Clemens and Jeremy Ring

With Jeff Atwater seeking the presidency of Florida Atlantic University (FAU), some Democrats are already creating buzz as possible replacements to be Florida’s chief financial officer, with two young state senators offering the party a sharp contrast in politics.

Jeremy Ring is clearly looking to move on from the Florida Senate though he doesn’t face term limits until 2016. Ring applied to be president of FAU but did not make the final cut of candidates and now his eyes could be turning to the CFO’s race. Ring’s name has been mentioned for the post before and he certainly has the background for it. While he is only 43, Ring’s experience is impressive, including helping launch Yahoo’s East Coast operations. Ring has become one of the leading pro-business Democrats in Tallahassee and his efforts to reach across the aisle to House Republican Lake Ray has led to legislation helping Florida’s ports.

Ring also has some fairly impressive political credentials. When Skip Campbell faced term limits in 2006, Ring handilly defeated Benjamin Graber in the Democratic primary. Since then, Ring has cruised to re-election with little in the way of opposition and not facing much competition from Republicans. Ring is being talked up by Jim Waldman, who was himself mentioned as a possible CFO candidate though his focus increasingly appears locked on moving from the House to the Senate in 2016.

Jeff Clemens is also generating buzz as a possible CFO candidate and his politics offer a sharp contrast to Ring. Like Ring, Clemens is 43. After serving as mayor of Lake Worth, Clemens, who worked in energy conservation and contracting, ran for the Florida House when Mary Brandenburg faced term limits in 2010. Clemens scored a solid victory over Peter Brandenburg, Mary’s huband, in the Democratic primary but he quickly turned his eyes to running for the Senate.

Taking on Mack Bernard in the Democratic primary in 2012, Clemens ran hard to the left, relying on the support of labor unions. It offered a sharp choice compared with Bernard who had the backing of some of the business community, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Clemens won an ugly primary by 17 votes. A judge in Tallahassee refused Bernard’s request to count 40 absentee ballots and Clemens was declared the winner.

In his short time in the Senate, Clemens has made some noise as one of the leading liberals in the chamber. He currently serves as the vice chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee.

Whatever happens with Atwater and FAU, Ring and Clemens are both up-and-coming politicians who offer Democrats a sharp choice on policy. With the race unsettled, either of the state senators would give the Democrats a much better chance to win the CFO race than William Rankin, the only candidate currently seeking the party’s nomination. Both of these senators have a chance to flip the CFO position back to the Democrats and would be competitive in the general election for the open seat.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (3)

Richard Paul Dembinsky
11:03PM JAN 24TH 2014
Maybe by November 4, 2014, I could learn to type without an error

away ....should have been aware.

I could blame the cold weather but actually typing then thinking is the problem.

Charlie Crist are YOU going to apologize for the unfair and unconstitutional election laws YOU as a Republican put in place?

ONLY Republicans can be listed on the top of all ballots anywhere in Florida any Race.
Richard Paul Dembinsky
10:56PM JAN 24TH 2014
Wow I was impressed tonight looking at William Rankin's Facebook pages, he continues to talk like he is a candidate; I find that troubling considering all the negative trash Chad Stevens found (right or wrong) I will be necessary for someone to convince William Rankin to step aside for some other democrat that has won elections and has knowledge of Florida.

I am still putting my $1876 dollars on a challenge of Dorothy Hukill for State Senate District 8. I did have 51,000 votes when the district was called District 7. (and now the revised district number and reshaping suggests that I could get at least 46 percent of the votes, but with a little luck I could get a little closer. HOWEVER, if Charlie Crist or Nan Rich cannot beat Honorable Rick Scott, HOW in the hell am I going to even get close to a win over Honorable Dorothy Hukill.

Please someone with money put your name on the Division of Election website by June 1, 2014 and YOU can have it.

Should William Rankin be the only democratic candidate for CFO well I will have to find $5200 to put my name on as NPA.

I would have been happy if Governor Scott put Jeff Atwater in as Lt. Governor, now that is not going to happen so Jeff Atwater needs to find reason to justify spending his complete Million dollars.

Dorothy Hukill, if you decide to move to South Florida that would be wonderful, I believe YOU would like the warmer weather especially warmer than Tallahassee.

Oh, it snowed today in Western Florida !!!!!

Keeping YOU all away of my plan to impact the November 4, 2014 election.

Oh, Charlie Crist give up on the POT campaign or for sure YOU will NOT win the vote of my wife and many others that believe and POT use could impact the drivers who have access to POT.

My wife's aunt was killed at 2 PM at her mail box by a drunk driver in Englewood Florida.

If Charlie Crist does NOT get off this POT deal of Mr. Morgan, well I will be working for some other candidate to be sure Charlie Crist does NOT win.

In fact I wish Janet Reno would allow me to be her campaign manager....she could do better than Charlie Crist.

Nan Rich,,,don't go off the farm supporting POT.

Florida needs Nan Rich not to be too Negative on the sitting Governor.

Nan Rich PLAN not looking backwards at Rick Scott. Thanks
Richard Paul Dembinsky
3:43PM JAN 19TH 2014
NO WAY to make ANY democrat that loves Yahoo be able to get elected; it just will not happen; democrats do not want just another ....cannot say it.....candidate....they want to put up a candidate that is truly a democrat............even if in the end Atwater is held hostage in Tallahassee for 4 more years. What is the wind chill in Tallahassee today? Any Democrat married to Obama or Obama health care will NOT win the Independent voters....I guarantee it.

Independents in Volusia County are over 70,000 which puts them close to the number of republicans ....so CFO candidate must be Independent and support Honorable Jeff Atwater but be just left of center only a little...to far or having New York history or even Ohio....will NOT allow any challenger to beat Honorable Jeff Atwater....Democrats find another few candidates.

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