Dingfelder withdraws from County Commission race but may be nominated

06/29/10 Seán Kinane
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Former Tampa City Council member John Dingfelder withdrew today from the race for Hillsborough County Commission. But he may end up being the Democratic nominee for the District 1 seat anyway.

"Today I decided to go ahead and withdrawal my candidacy for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. I went ahead and advised the Supervisor of Elections of that in writing."

"You got into a little bit of trouble about taking yourself off the Tampa City Council past the deadline."

"I prefer not to refer to it as trouble because we didn't do anything wrong, by an oversight on my part and I take full responsibility for it. I missed a deadline. I was supposed to file my withdrawal, resign letter by the 4th of June, which is ten days before qualifying. Instead I walked into qualifying with all of my paperwork in my hand, proud like a little school boy, and then I found out a week later that I in fact was ten days late with that. So I did the next best thing last week, which was to go ahead and resign from City Council effective immediately then. Over the last week, I've had time to research this, ponder it, and talk to a lot of people, supporters and this and that. I realized that for the last year it was my desire to wage a campaign that focused on the issues that are important to the citizens of Hillsborough County like jobs, transportation, the environment and things like that. Instead what I foresaw was that I was going to have a campaign this entire summer and the fall perhaps, that would be dogged by threats of litigation from the other side, completely unrelated to the challenges and issues facing our county. So I made one of the toughest decisions I've had to make. Perhaps last week I made a tough decision, and this week I made a tough decision to go ahead and withdrawal my candidacy. It's no secret because the newspaper has printed it, and it's part of our statures that when a candidate withdraws that the local party gets to choose his or her replacement. So basically I'm throwing this back to the local party. If the local party decides to pick somebody else, I will give that person my full support. If the local party decides to pick me, then I will accept that honor and move forward with that nomination, or perhaps renomination with renewed vigor."

"So withdrawing from the race does not mean that you could not run for this position. You might be renominated by the party, and if that's the case you would definitely wage a campaign and try to win this seat."

"We will not miss a beat. The jaunting fellow who was running before was in elected office, and he had a duty to resign to run. There are some technicalities under the law, as i said there was some oversights and I paid the price severely for that. I had to resign from City Council four months in advance from when I wanted to; from when i needed to because of that oversight. But if the Democratic Committee of Hillsborough County decides that they want me to be the nominee, I will be glad to be a nominee and our campaign goes forward without a hitch."

"Do you think that that would waylay the critics and that they wouldn't have a case anymore?"

"I haven't heard any critics to be honest. I've heard my opponents take their cheap shots. I think the reality is that at some point in everybody's life your late on paying a bill, or your late to an appointment, or something like that. And that's exactly what I did. So I'll leave it on that. I'm not going to speculate on what they're going to do or how they're going to react."

The chair of the Democratic Party of Hillsborough County, Patricia Kemp, indicates the party could choose Dingfelder as their nominee.

"Well I haven't been notified yet. But when I am notified the position will be open, we'll follow the law, which my understanding of the law is that it then falls on the party to name a nominee."

"And that could be John Dingfelder."

"That's correct, and we have a very short window to do it in."

"Do you know what the deadline is?"

"Sooner than five days."

"Linda Saul-Sena is in the same boat as John Dingfelder. Do you think they'll do the same thing with her?"

"I don't know. I think if she were to, if the process came to the democratic party if that's what you mean. She has wide spread support And again she has an excellent record of public service; of voting for community interest and representing people well. So I think she would also have widespread support within the Democratic Party."

Former Tampa City Council member Linda Saul-Sena also missed a deadline to resign from City Council to run for County Commission. WMNF was not able to reach Saul-Sena by air time.

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