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Florida Democratic Party Chair: ‘They’re Like Children, These Black Lawmakers’


Florida Democratic Chairman Steve Bittel said that he is prepared to leave his post over a controversy stemming from his referral to members of the state’s legislative black caucus as “childish” during a fundraiser Saturday.

Bittel reportedly lashed out at the black caucus after they, along with other state legislators, became angry that their stage time had been canceled to accommodate the event’s keynote speaker, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Bittel further angered the black caucus members by accusing them of “playing the race card” when they took offense to his initial comment.

In an effort to make amends, Bittel arranged a Tuesday morning meeting with Senate Democratic leader Oscar Braynon and the future House Democratic leader Kionne McGhee.

“Stephen is a true believer in the party and if the party needs his head, he’ll give it,” a Democrat “familiar with Bittel’s thinking” told Politico. “If Oscar or Kionne want him gone, he’s gone.”

Another unnamed Democrat to whom Bittel spoke said that he “is ready to quit if he’s asked. He is sorry. And he wants to make amends.”

Braynon told Politico that Bittel said “the black caucus members were acting like three-year-olds and childish,” adding that Bittel singled him out for behaving “like a child.”

Braynon was apparently so incensed with Bittel that he had to be forced out of the room by staffers.

“The leader would have killed the chair,” a Democrat who witnessed the exchange told Politico. “Bittel isn’t a racist. But he’s a rich white man who doesn’t know that the things that come out of his mouth can be really offensive.”

Bittel’s use of divisive language and the ensuing controversy was ironic in light of Biden’s address, which stressed party unity.

He later apologized for the incident and took responsibility for his statements.

“I have much to learn and I am committed to being better and learning from this mistake. I sincerely apologize,” Bittel said in a written statement provided to Politico Monday. “I am working with Democratic leaders to mend fences, move forward and make our party stronger.”

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