By Roger Caldwell
In Florida, the Republicans control Both Houses, the Governorship, and the majority of state appointments. Statistically, this does not make sense, because there are more Democrats registered on the voting polls, which gives the party the advantage in every election. But somehow the Republicans continue to win, and it would appear that the wrong Democratic leadership is in positions of power.
Under the leadership of the Florida Democratic Chairperson Allison Tant, the Democrats have lost the Governorship twice by around 60,000 votes, and something is wrong. As a result of the close results, the leadership commissioned a task force under the co-chair of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, and Ex-Orlando Police Chief Val Deming. The official title of the task force was the “Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Expansion to Advance Democrats Task Force.”
The mission of the task force was to determine what went so wrong for the party at the ballot box in 2014, and list recommendations going forward.
The task force was charged with the following three goals; 1. Review best practices for candidate recruitment for local, state, and federal offices, 2. Examine data and digital footprint to ensure new technologies are being utilized, and 3. Assess field and turnout operations and recommend steps to improve performance.
After seven months of town hall meetings, general meetings, planning meetings, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Democrats now need more meetings to discuss and access the report. Some Florida Democrats think the seven months of work was a colossal waste of time, energy, and money. For almost two decades the Florida Democrats have delivered constant electoral defeats, and the same group is now making recommendations based on what they keep doing wrong.
The task force was made up of entirely established figures in the party, and many Black Democrats have charged the present leadership with dis-crimination and cronyism. Many Black Democratic candidates in 2014 claimed that the leadership ignored Black candidates such as Thaddeus Hamilton, who ran for commissioner of Agriculture, and received little financial support from the party. Also many Black candidates argued that the party had no platform, and re-fused to put out information on minority candidates.
The report also missed the poor job the Democrats did on raising money in 2014, and was out spent by the Republicans by a two to one margin. There was no unified message to engage the young voters, and there was no plan for the poor. Basically many Democratic voters thought they were dis-respected, and the focus was on ex-governor Crist, and little attention on other candidates.
Even though it took seven months to complete the report, it correctly stated that the party had little presence in the rural counties of North and Central Florida, which represented 45 percent of the statewide vote. The report also recommends that the state party regularly distributes talking points, and holds more candidate messaging training.
In the final analysis, there were some good information and points in the report, but it failed to address the changing diversity in the state. The report lacks the creativity and innovation to connect to the youth and young voters, and mobilize the party on the grassroots level. With no definitive plan to execute the report, it may end up being a waste of time.