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Democrats' new leader in Pinellas makes quick exit

By ALICIA CALDWELL

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 3, 2000


Not even a crisis resolution counselor could keep Pinellas Democrats together.

Earlier this week, the newly elected interim chairman of the Pinellas Democratic party quit during a debate about party finances.

Pete Caffentzis, who was chosen in March, resigned Tuesday night. Caffentzis, 68, who has spent his career in crisis resolution and marriage counseling, said he was unwilling to spend the next few months defending the election strategy blueprint and budget that he had presented to the membership.

Recently, he said, a relative and several friends have died, not only saddening him, but leaving him feeling that life is too tenuous to spend it fighting over politics. He and his wife plan to go to Paris and Athens in the weeks leading up to the November general elections.

"You have to know when to leave," Caffentzis said.

The differences over party finances, however, was seen as symptomatic of other deep-seated problems.

"People argue over money all the time," said Myrtle Smith-Carroll, a state and national Democratic committeewoman. "Ostensibly, it was about money, but like in a marriage it's always really about something else."

The Democrats, said Smith-Carroll, would regroup and this month will elect another chairperson for the current term, which ends in December.

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