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Exclusive: FDP Staff Campaigning for Chair Candidate in State Capitol (UPDATED)

Yesterday, as we discussed, Allison Tant, a well connected and effective Democratic fund raiser announced her candidacy for FDP Chair. Ms. Tant is strongly supported by some of the most prominent Democratic elected officials in the state as well as several of the party’s staffers and consultants.

Multiple sources have confirmed to TPH that some Florida Democratic Party staff  and consultants were active today in the halls of the State Capitol (where legislators are assembled for committee meetings) attempting to secure the support  from members of the legislature  for the candidacy of Ms. Tant.

While much of the  Tallahassee based party establishment has rallied behind Ms. Tant’s candidacy in the last 24 hours, Alan Clendenin who was reelected by acclimation as the Hillsborough State Committeeman tonight has retained significant support from elected officials, grassroots activists and DEC members across the state.  Annette Tadeo, another declared candidate for Chair, was yesterday elected Chairwoman of the Miami-Dade DEC, one of two counties in the state that produced a 200,000 plus vote margin for President Obama in last month’s elections. Several Democratic party staffers whose neutrality should be a given in a contest like this, have taken an overt stand in this possible chair’s race, which is sure to further polarize the party.

Ms. Tant personally is not to blame for today’s actions by party staff. She may very well have nothing to do with these actions  but the behavior of some party staff are indicative of a culture that has long penetrated the FDP. This culture is one of top down leadership where the Tallahassee based staff and consultants make decisions that continue a vicious cycle of losing; the record of the state party, which has lost a greater percentage of races for statewide office (Governor & Cabinet) than any other Democratic Party east of the Mississippi River since 2000 has lost the confidence of many the activists and volunteers who have worked so hard to try and elect Democrats throughout the state.

It is extremely disappointing that party staff, rather than facilitate a smooth election process and start working on candidate recruitment and infrastructure building for 2014 are spending time and effort lobbying elected officials in the chair’s race. This sort of behavior is precisely why the grassroots activists of the party in urbanized central and southeastern Florida are growing further and further afield from the Tallahassee based leadership and staff.

Update: Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s spokesperson released this earlier today per the Tampa Bay Times: “Allison has been a strong and active leader within the Democratic Party for years,” said Jonathan Beeton, a spokesperson for Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “The Congresswoman has known Allison for more  for more than 20 years and the entire Party benefited from her tireless work in helping to win Florida and reelect President Obama.”

DWS’ Florida delegation colleague, Congresswoman Kathy Castor is however sticking with Alan Clendenin: “Alan Clendenin will keep the Democratic Party’s momentum growing and take Florida Democrats to the next level.  His plan to Rebrand, Rebuild, and Recruit will help The Democratic Party achieve success and opportunity for all Florida families and small businesses.  With Alan Clendenin as Party Chair, Florida will move forward,” said Rep. Castor in a statement.

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15 Responses

  1. Good reporting and analysis. One quick clarification. I am not sure who your sources are on this matter, but my understanding is that party “staff” is really just the party executive director. I think this clarification is necessary because some of your readers may have misinterpreted this article to think young kids who are party staffers are running around campaigning for party chair. It is in fact just Scott who is concerned about his job but is acting most unprofessionally. People in our party are sick and tired as you said about this sort of attitude from the party elders and arrogant consultants.

    • Fair enough. It is was “high-level” party staffers and consultants. As an aside I was recently in a similar position in my job. I’m the longest tenured employee and we just in the last two months went through a transition at the top of our organization. Our new Commissioner was selected by a vote of our Board of Governors and while I have very strong opinions it would have been unethical for me to even approach a single person voting with my views so I stayed out of it completely. That’s what you do in situations like this, because as a staffer I would have to work closely with whomever was chosen.

  2. Can you blame him? I mean seriously the electoral performance of this party has been so bad I’d fire the staff on the spot starting with Scott A. if I became chair. We need new staff, new thinking, a new vision, and new ideas. We need a party that’s inclusive and focused on grassroots and populations centers not Tallahassee lobbyists and rural counties in the panhandle. Thanks for publishing the Clendenin plan. He is barking up the right tree and should get the position just for putting out such a thoughtful and thorough vision for the future.

    • I personally think it would be unwise for any new chair to pass judgement on party staff without working with them for 3-6 months and getting to know them. We don’t need another Scott Maddox coming in and chopping and changing and filling positions with cronies within two weeks. I agree that the job performance of our staff has been below par but is that because of lack of leadership/vision from the top and poor consultants and the general Tallahassee insider game the Ds specialize in, or because of the staff itself? I don’t have the answer and neither does anyone else until after assessing this staff working with another chair, another system and another plan. It’s poor form in ANY organization to go in and fire people right off the bat.

  3. Scott only cares about himself, how much money he can milk the party for and his desire to have his own time in the spotlight as an elected himself. Loser.

  4. We need new staff, candidates, leadership, etc. The only thing we don’t need is a new president and vice. These groups of folks are worse than South County folks. Again what are they think between lobbying for a Bush aide (DWS and Nelson) and pushing Crist to be the nominee for Democratic Governor. I guess Murphy was right it is one of the same party. Sick people.

  5. Scott Arceneaux gives good interviews and does a good job as a spokesman for the party but has NO BUSINESS lobbying for a new chair and has a responsibility as our performance in state races has been below par during his tenure.

    As far as a great wave this year, we simply won back congressional,
    Senate and House seats we lost in 2010. Entering 2010 we had 44 State Reps, 14 State Senators and 10 Congress people. In January 2013 the numbers will be exactly the same as November 2010. No great achievement there. This comes after a favorable redistricting as well, so actually we are probably worse off than before.

  6. Excellent reporting. It’s also good to see Castor supporting Clendenin so he’s not totally activist driven and pushed. Does Taddeo have any elected support? Tant any activist support?

  7. I am so unhappy about this situation. At some point our elected officials and lobbyists have to let the party grow organically and work hard to revitalize the grassroots.

    If Tant wins I expect we will see more brewpubs activist organizations than ever before. We are missing our window of opportunity to capture this state!

  8. This is not shocking. Entitlement and panic are hallmarks of our E.D.

  9. [...] years and Tallahassee insiders continue to try and dictate events despite being almost completely aloof from developments in the major populations centers of the state. The weakness of the FDP and most local DEC’s has [...]

  10. [...] House Victory in 2012 Christian Ulvert, are actively campaigning for Tant. This is something that we discovered just days after Mrs. Tant’s announcement that she was running as FDP Chair. Therefore, if you are one of those people who feel that things need to be “shaken up”, [...]

  11. [...] House Victory in 2012 Christian Ulvert, are actively campaigning for Tant. This is something that we discovered just days after Mrs. Tant’s announcement that she was running as FDP Chair. Therefore, if you are one of those people who feel that things need to be “shaken up”, [...]

  12. This was a very informative piece. Thank you.

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