Florida Democratic Party Chairman Keeps His Job After Saying Black Lawmakers Are Like ‘Children’

Stephen Bittel

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel will remain in his post- for now.

The Florida Democratic Party chair reached a truce with the two top African-American Democrats in the Florida legislature in a Tuesday meeting, the Miami Herald reported.

Bittel had been facing calls to resign from his post after he made a statement saying that black lawmakers are like “children” after a fundraising gala Saturday evening.

“They’re like children, these black lawmakers. They just don’t get it,” Bittel reportedly told Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation). “I raised more money in this amount of time than they ever could.”

Bittel made the comment referencing lawmakers who were unhappy because their names did not get called on stage at a million-dollar fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party.

The party made a decision not to introduce the lawmakers by name because of time constraints having to do with an appearance by former Vice President Joe Biden, who said the appearance at the Leadership Blue Gala was cutting into the time he would spend with his wife for their 40th wedding anniversary.

Democratic legislators were upset with Bittel for cutting the portion of the program where Braynon and Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa), the House Democratic leader, would introduce members from each of their caucuses.

When Sen. Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens) aired his grievances with the chairman, Bittel responded by telling the Senate Democratic leader he was “acting like a 3-year-old.”

“I wouldn’t have cared if he told us we couldn’t be on stage,” Braynon said Sunday after the gala. “I was trying to protect you, tell him members were going to be upset. And he has the audacity of calling me a black child.”

Several black legislators set up a private meeting with Bittel Sunday in a conference room at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida to say how angry they were with him for referring to them as “children.”

“I’m sorry,” Bittel said, according to three people who attended the meeting.

Politico reported that one of the Democratic lawmakers at the meeting who spoke to Bittel said the party chair would be “ready to quit if asked.”

The two African-American lawmakers who met with Bittel Tuesday, although still upset with him, urged to Bittel be more inclusive in his efforts to lead the party through the 2018 elections.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.