Allison Tant’s insider campaign for FDP Chair has continued to squeeze party leaders into support. Not only is DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz making calls to state committee members but other elected officials such as Congressman Ted Deutch are doing so as well. Yet, these calls have done little to move votes in the past week. After an initial splash where Tant’s allies were able to realign a large numbers of voters in the January 26th election, Alan Clendenin’s support on the grassroots level has hardened to stronger levels than before Tant’s entry into the race. The assumption made by many that Tant would have this race wrapped up by now has not come pass, leaving party insiders perplexed.
Frustration continues to fester on the grassroots level that the party is being controlled by a group of kingmakers in Tallahassee while the party’s infrastructure continues to crumble. This is not a new concern, as in the past well qualified potential state chairs like Brett Berlin and Doug Courtney were pushed out of the way for a strictly political choices. Many on the local level, particularly in central and southern Florida are tired of this happening, and have resolved to back Clendenin strongly to send an indisputable message to the party leadership.
While Democrats have fallen into a helpless minority posture in the legislature and have a statewide record in Governor & Cabinet elections since 2000 that is the worst of any state east of the Mississippi, Tallahassee based lobbyists and consultants have in coordination with elected officials have concocted various schemes to keep control of the party apparatus. The feeling is that they have done little if anything to support local DECs, even in Florida’s most vote rich counties and continue a trend of hiring inexperienced staff whose world view tends to revolve around the State Capitol building and lobbyists in the area. No doubt these lobbyists and consultants have a role to play, but they should not have complete control over the party apparatus as they have now for more than a decade. The staff can be properly trained if given a real plan to work from and ideas about what goes on politically outside of the second congressional district.
The Tallahassee centric group has provided no plan of action on how to restructure or revitalize a party who is consistently losing elections inspite of favorable demographic, voter registration and ideological attitudes in the state. Clendenin has provided such a plan that would help enable DECs and activists across the state.
The vote for FDP Chair will be held January 26th in Lake Mary. Based on the weighted voting procedures of the FDP, the most important counties to secure support from in the race are in order, Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Hillsborough. The last six chairs of the Florida Democratic Party have come from outside this important bloc of counties, and the last four (and five of the last six) have come from north of the Orlando Metropolitan Area. The last six chairs have all come from counties with under 250,000 registered voters. Should Tant be elected, she would continue this trend away from large urbanized counties at the very same time as Democrats as a party are becoming almost entirely reliant on these places to win elections.