Paul Chandler drops out again from Central Florida House race, this time for real

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PHOTO VIA PAUL CHANDLER CAMPAIGN
  • Photo via Paul Chandler campaign
Democratic candidate Paul Chandler has announced once again that he's dropping out of the race for Florida House District 44, only this time, it appears he's actually doing it.

In a letter posted by the Florida Division of Elections, Chandler officially resigned his bid for the district that runs through Winter Garden and Windermere all the way down to Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake. Chandler did not respond when reached for comment by the Orlando Weekly. The only other candidate remaining in the race for the Oct. 10 special election is former Winter Garden commissioner Robert "Bobby O" Olszewski, a Republican.

For weeks, Chandler's campaign has been overshadowed by a lawsuit challenging his residency qualifications and a public fight between himself and members of the local and state Democratic Party. Originally, Chandler announced he was withdrawing from the race on Aug. 22 because party leaders threatened to sink his flailing campaign, though party officials dispute this, saying it was in the best interest of the party for Chandler to let somebody else run in the face of a lawsuit.

Either way, Chandler never turned in his official paperwork to resign, which prohibited Democrats from finding a new candidate to replace him on the ballot. As the deadline for printing ballots neared, Chandler told Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles earlier in September that he was staying in the race. Cowles' office printed absentee ballots with Chandler's name on them, which means his name will stay on all future ballots even if Democrats elect a replacement. Usually in these cases, the county elections office post notices indicating that a vote for Chandler is a vote for his replacement.

"Democrats need to stand up and fight to win," Chandler said in a statement following his second announced resignation. "That is why Democrats lose in Florida. Democrats are not on the ballot in every election. Not every county Democrat committee mentors and supports Democrats in races."

Orange County Democrats will be meeting on Monday, Sept. 18 to elect a replacement candidate.

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