Lobbyist Anita Mitchell is frontrunner for Palm Beach County GOP chairby George Bennett | October 10th, 2013
Lobbyist and GOP fundraiser Anita Mitchell is now the only announced candidate for county GOP chairman as a Nov. 13 special election approaches to replace Ira Sabin, who resigned last month. Mitchell and GOP activist and former state House candidate Tami Donnally had said they would run for chairman in next month’s election. But Donnally dropped out in a brief, emotional speech at Wednesday night’s Republican Executive Committee meeting.
Other candidates can still emerge up to the Nov. 13 meeting, when the roughly 180-member REC will open the floor to nominations. But Mitchell has been lining up at least enough support to convince Donnally to get out of the race.
“Several key people who I respect and trust came to me and told me they were going to support Anita because they feel her fundraising skills are what the party needs right now,” Donnally said in an interview.
In remarks to REC members, Donnally said: “We need to come together so we can work in unity…In the name of unity, so we all can be united, I am withdrawing from the race for chairman. I’m not going to run. And I think we all should get behind one person and make it work….I hope that over the next four weeks we don’t have any more division.”
Mitchell only became eligible to run for GOP chair on Wednesday night when she was unanimously elected to a vacant committee seat. She has been active in Republican campaigns and the Republican Club of the Palm Beaches. Mitchell is the mother of West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell and the ex-wife of moon-walking astronaut Edgar Mitchell.
Sabin, narrowly elected chairman in December, resigned Sept. 26 after 10 months of weak fundraising and friction with other party leaders. Mitchell said her intent is to serve the remainder of Sabin’s term, which ends in December 2014, and turn the leadership over to someone else.
“I hope to build a really strong bench,” Mitchell said Wednesday night.