TALLAHASSEE – Just days after jumping into the race to become the state’s chief financial officer, Central Florida Urban League President Allie Braswell Jr. abruptly quit his campaign Monday.
Braswell scuttled his bid after it was revealed he has filed for bankruptcy three times. His decision to leave the race was a blow for the Florida Democratic Party, which just last week was touting his decision to run.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and apologize to my supporters,” Braswell said in a statement. “The bright spotlight of a statewide campaign has cast the ups and downs of my life into harsh relief and I know that this campaign is not the way I was meant to serve my community.”
Braswell last week announced his plan to challenge incumbent Republican Jeff Atwater. Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant called him “exactly the kind of leader we need in Tallahassee.”
But after Braswell announced his candidacy, The Florida Times-Union reported he had filed for bankruptcy three times in two states. The latest was filed in 2008 and showed he had $509,000 in liabilities with only $324,000 in assets. He then defaulted on a payment plan.
Republicans on Monday reveled in Braswell’s decision to drop out.
“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,” Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry said in a statement.
When asked about Braswell’s decision to withdraw, a Democratic Party spokesman said he was a “self-made man who had ups and downs in his life.”
“He clearly wasn’t ready for the rigors of a statewide campaign and so he has made the decision with his family and supporters to withdraw from the race,” Joshua Karp said.
Braswell had never run for political office. He held management positions with Walt Disney World for seven years before being named to lead the Central Florida Urban League in 2010. He also served 13 years in the Marines.
His decision to quickly depart underscores the trouble Democrats could have trying to recruit candidates for the 2014 elections. So far, no one has stepped forward to challenge GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Democrat challenging Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised less than $1,000 in outside donations.
Four Democrats have filed for governor, including former state Sen. Nan Rich. Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who last year switched to the Democratic Party, is seen as a likely contender for the job, as well.