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Congratulations to Allison Tant FDP Chair

Florida Democrats today in a meeting which served to temporarily polarize an already fractured party selected Allison Tant to be the next chair of the party. Congratulations to Ms. Tant and I am confident she will be a SIGNIFICANT improvement on the last three chairs all of whom have had great opportunities to excel but ultimately failed.

Tant, unlike the previous three chairs is not a former elected official potentially seeking another office and has actually raised money as an outsider for political campaigns. She has also played a leading role in the formulation of a progressive infrastructure outside the FDP to take on Rick Scott and GOP legislature. Her priority will be the party’s well-being not personal self promotion, and for that we must all be thankful.

It is important that all Florida Democrats unite behind Ms. Tant as she seeks to bring us together. We have plenty of other issues as a party that need to be solved in the coming weeks and months, but we now have a leader and we should all work to get behind her.

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Clendenin and Tant Both Deserve Credit; Some Supporters Do Not

Tomorrow morning in Lake Mary, Florida’s Democrats will select a new party chair. Alan Clendenin and Allison Tant have both made strong cases as to why they should be the next leader of a once proud party which has recently been on losing streak of record proportions. Both candidates have offered ideas and a vision which contrasts with the previous three party chairs.

I have supported Alan Clendenin in this race and am hopeful of his victory tomorrow, should this election come to a floor vote. But based on Allison Tant’s record and conversations with many of her supporters I believe she will be a significant improvement over current Chairman Rod Smith who will stand down tomorrow.

While both candidates have articulated positive visions for rebuilding a party whose statewide infrastructure has collapsed, some of the supporters of both candidates have been out of line. While many have taken shots at this website about our coverage of the race, I personally have tried to keep the discourse factual and specific to issues related specifically to the Florida Democratic Party. Continue reading

County Breakdown in FDP Chairs Race: Should the Weighted Vote Go?

The Florida Democratic Party uses a weighted vote system with its State Committee members. This system is controversial as at least in theory disproportionately favors the three urban southeast Florida counties over the rest of the state. These counties arguably have little in common with the other 64 counties, yet can ostensibly control the party under this system with little coalition building.

This weighted vote has made the current chair’s race close. Were the rules that govern the RPOF Chair elections in place, Allison Tant would have already wrapped a victory. It is worth noting that the geographic variation of recent Republican Party Chairs has been far greater than among the Democrats at the same time, with the RPOF having been led in the previous ten years by chairs from just about every corner of the state, SE Florida excluded. The Democrats who have become overly dependent on urban areas for votes have not had a Chairman from a major urbanized area since Bob Poe left the job on January 2003, a statistic not lost on many from those areas. The last three chairs have failed to build the party structure in large counties both from the standpoint of donors and activists.

While this has been a nasty chairs race, not much has been written about the Democrats dependence on urban areas for votes coupled by the continued unwillingness of the party to either select chairs from urban areas or set up the type of field operation in areas outside Tallahassee the GOP thrives on. The Republican turnout and field operation in second tier counties like Pasco, Lake, Brevard, Lee and Sarasota are particularly impressive.

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FDP Chair Race: Myths Mask Reality

Much speculation has occupied these pages and those of similarly minded political websites and blogs over the past month. The discussion in the FDP Chairs Race has been on the whole productive though we have seen some negative episodes some of which have started on these pages. As time moves on it becomes obvious that many of the perceptions that have been driving this race are simply not borne out in reality.

Here are some of the biggest misconceptions out there:

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New Endorsements in FDP Chair Race; Alex Sink Endorses Clendenin

In the last 24 hours, major endorsements have come down in the race for FDP Chair.

Monica Russo, the President of the SEIU Florida State Council endorsed Allison Tant saying: “Allison’s dedication to grassroots advocacy for the disabled, public education, and quality health care are aligned with the values of 55,000 active and retired members of SEIU in Florida. In addition, she brings a vitality and tenaciousness to campaigning and fundraising that will be required in order to win real gains for Floridians both legislatively and electorally.”

Mike Williams, who is extremely influential in Tallahassee, and among labor throughout the state endorsed Alan Clendenin.

“I am proud to support Alan Clendenin to be the next Chair of the Florida Democratic Party. Like myself, Alan has been a union member and dedicated labor activist and he understands the needs and struggles of Florida’s working families. Alan has espoused the best values ofFlorida’s workers through concrete action. His proven record shows that he understands the power of emboldening a strong grassroots base of activists and the strength of making campaigns about people and values, not just campaign money. He is the perfect candidate to meet the needs of Florida Democrats. As we turn to the 2014 elections that will decide the direction for Florida’s future, we need someone like Alan as party chair. Someone that can make sure that the party speaks clearly to the values we hold dear while being successful at the ballot box,” said Williams.

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Guest Column – Florida Democratic Party Chair’s Race: We’ve Already Won

Guest column by Kevin Thurman

In 2010 when Andrew Gillum was the last to concede the chairmanship to Rod Smith we elected another party chair that took that position without explaining to Democrats how they plan to change our electoral fortunes. This record stretches back decades.

In fact, in 2002 after Bob Poe left his position as Party Chair due to major electoral losses . Scott Maddox didn’t even have an opponent . We’ve been electing party chairs without opposition or real plans for a long time. So it’s great we are trying something different — with the race between Allison Tant and Alan Clendenin. We are using a chair race to determine the direction of the Party. States like Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina, and dozens of others had these kinds of fights years ago. We never did.

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Another Tant Contribution Questioned

In recent days more chatter has come up about Allison Tant’s previous contributions to Republicans. I’ve received a few inquires about a contribution to Rep. Marti Coley in 2006. Coley the current Speaker Pro Tempore of the Florida House is the widow of her husband, David who she succeeded in the House.

Coley, Marti (REP)(STR) 06/14/2006 250.00 CHE TANT ALLISON

Coley’s legislative record has been that of a partisan ideologue and this contribution was made long after Tant completed her lobbying career. Coley has a lifetime 97% rating from the conservative pro-business advocacy organization Associated Industries of Florida.

Rep. Coley has been been embroiled in controversy about her taxpayer funded job at Chipola State College recently,which has been alleged as a conflict of interest for the lawmaker.

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Tant’s Party Memo Shows Promise: Analysis

On New Years Eve, FDP Chair candidate Allison Tant released a memo outlining a few thoughts she has about the direction of the Democratic Party. She calls it her “Five Pillars for Success.”

I am pleased to see that Tant has shown she takes the role of being Chair seriously by offering her vision for where our party needs to go into the future. Let’s look at Tant’s memo and my analysis:

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Money and the FDP Chair Race: Part IV – Conclusion

We do it because it is the right thing to do.

We do it because it is the right thing to do.

Previously, I was going to make this a five part series. But because I have addressed most of the issues in the last part, I will then jump to my conclusions and why this is all very important. First, I will talk about the actual race for Florida Democratic Party chair. Then I will touch on a personal note.

So, let’s talk about the Chair’s race. Over the last few weeks, we have presented a number of facts regarding this race. Take them as you will, but I feel that knowing everything about everyone involved with the race is vitally important.

When looking at both candidates, I did a lot of research. Not only did I examine their past connections, but people they were currently connected to as well. But this wasn’t the only criteria that I considered. Because I wanted to see Democrats win, it is very important that someone has a plan to lead us to success.

First, let’s look at the plan. Mr. Clendenin has a plan while Mrs. Tant does not. Easy to see who wins on that one.

Second, I looked at the contributions of both candidates. Mr. Clendenin has been a strong supporter for Democrats as far as his contributions. While not being wealthy like Mrs. Tant, Mr. Clendenin has contributed 100% to Democratic candidates, including strong progressives like Linda Stewart, Victor Torres and Ian Whitney.

Mrs. Tant, on the other hand, does not seem to have a strong record when it comes to solely contributing to Democrats, showing that she also donates to Republicans. Even with donations to moderate Republicans like Dennis Jones, others like conservatives Marti Coley and Apryl Marie Fogel received donations as recently as 2006 and 2007, respectively. Those that support Mrs. Tant say that this is because “she was a lobbyist and must play both sides”. There are two very strong flaws with that argument. First, according to the State of Florida, Mrs. Tant wasn’t a lobbyist after 2001. Thus any donations that were made after this really cannot be contributed to her “being a lobbyist”. Second, because Mrs. Tant has contributed to Republicans after being a lobbyist, how can we trust that she would fairly contest all seats? We need to have a chair that doesn’t have any personal feelings toward any Republican candidates, which might lead to a lack of recruitment, particularly in a key district.
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Money and the FDP Chair Race, Part III: Project New Florida – The Link

tantThere is an organization that is involved with politics that many have really ever heard of called Project New Florida. Some of you might have heard about organizations called Project New America and Project New West, which say they help progressive candidates. But when looking at what they have done at the national level, one must wonder if they are really helping. If someone was to do a Google search on “Project New Florida”, they would generally only find polling results. Even on their national website they have to “clarify” that they are not a polling firm, stating “We’re not a traditional polling firm, though we do employ them as part of our methodology.” When there needs to be clarification, that isn’t a good sign.

Project New Florida is run by former Florida House member Loranne Ausley. We have been made aware from a number of different sources in Tallahassee that Ms. Ausley is actively campaigning for Allison Tant for Florida Democratic Party chair. Yet we are unaware of any endorsements or public statements by Ms. Ausley in which she claims support for Tant.

Still, Ms. Ausley wasn’t one of the founders of this organization. She didn’t join Project New Florida until May of 2011. In fact, the organization wasn’t even originally called Project New Florida. Instead, it was called “The Florida Watch”.

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