Four days after launching a 2014 candidacy for Florida chief financial officer with promotion from the Florida Democratic Party, Allie Braswell announced Monday he’s withdrawing from the race.
The would-be fiscal watchdog was stung by revelations, first reported by the Florida Times Union, that he filed for bankruptcy twice in South Carolina in the 1990s and once in Florida in 2008. In the latest case, he had $509,000 in liabilities with $324,000 in assets, and he defaulted on a payment plan.
“The bright spotlight of a statewide campaign has cast the ups and downs of my life into harsh relief, and I now know that this campaign is not the way I was meant to serve my community,” Braswell, 51, said in a statement released Monday morning.
Braswell, president of the Urban League of Central Florida since 2010, previously held management positions at Walt Disney World for seven years and served 13 years in the Marines before that.
Hoping to unseat Republican CFO Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach, the Florida Democratic Party touted Braswell’s declaration of candidacy last week as “a major announcement” and followed up with glowing words from Florida Democratic Chairwoman Allison Tant.
“I am thrilled that Allie Braswell is running for Florida’s CFO, because he’s exactly the kind of leader we need in Tallahassee,” Tant said Thursday.
Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp on Monday wouldn’t say whether the party knew about Braswell’s bankruptcies before his announcement.
“I’m not going to get into internal party discussions about any particular candidate,” Karp said. “His campaign was urged to take the necessary steps to check the boxes that one would normally check before beginning a statewide campaign of this kind and it seems plain that those steps were not taken.”
Karp said Braswell first approached the party about running in April and “We didn’t recruit Mr. Braswell to run. He came to us.”
Since Tant became chairwoman in January, Florida Democrats have pledged to field credible 2014 candidates for governor and three statewide cabinet positions, all of which are held by Republicans.
“To back a candidate in charge of Florida’s finances without vetting that candidate’s handling of his personal finances shows either a high level of incompetence or a new level of desperation for Allison Tant,” said Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry.
The state GOP also released a list of “8 things that lasted longer than Allie Braswell’s campaign for CFO,” including President Barack Obama’s recent Martha’s Vineyard vacation and Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage to basketball player Kris Humphreys.
On Twitter, some Democrats found a silver lining in the fact that Braswell departed quickly.
“Good call by Allie Braswell,” said Democratic strategist Kevin Cate, who was a spokesman for former CFO Alex Sink. “I’ve never seen a worse candidate roll out in my life.”
“Braswell had an immense mountain to climb if he ran perfect campaign. After that first day, he was done,” said Democratic consultant Steven Schale. “Smart to get out now.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.