It’s nearly March…where are the candidates?

The last Democratic candidate to win in a "toss up" Florida House district in Orange County was Kim Shepard...20 years ago!

With the Republican primaries in full swing and the Obama team starting to get in campaign mode, we are starting to see the campaign season in full swing. This is the time when candidates start to get their core groups together, continue (not start) their fundraising and start to get their names out there by making campaign signs and visits to local organizations and party groups.

But with Florida Democrats running for the State House and Senate, this isn’t the case throughout most of the state. Any why is that? Well, there are no candidates in many of these districts.

Take Central Florida for example. With the exception of the incumbents and one or two other candidates running for State House, overall, there are very few quality Democratic candidates. While the Republicans are already in full campaign mode, only a few Democratic candidates are on the same page.

Therefore, what about these districts? Of course, we aren’t quite sure what the districts are right now, but that is besides the point. Candidates should have already been recruited for Central Florida seats and should be on the ground and running hard.

But instead, more than likely, we will see the party take poor advise from some party insider, recruit someone at the deadline, know nothing about the person, and then when that person, who has no skills, no campaign organization, no fundraising talent whatsoever, is told by the party that they have to “go on their own”, the Democrats set themselves up to lose another seat by a large margin. This is exactly what happened with Darius Davis’ run for the State Senate against Andy Gardiner in 2008. In a year in which Obama carried Orange County by nearly 20%, Davis lost by almost nearly the same amount. Granted, he wasn’t a good candidate and ran a poor campaign. But he was recommended by a party insider…and what a poor recommendation that was.

I can easily blame the Florida Democratic Party for this, and I do. But there is a point in which the local parties need to coordinate with the state party to get the best candidate. And again, this is a process that should be happening a year before the election, not at the candidate filing deadline. The later you wait, the more you will get a candidate like Darius Davis. The earlier you get on the ball, you will get candidates like Mike Clelland, who is a well qualified and has shown the ability to form an organized campaign message and do early fundraising. The former loses, the latter wins, pure and simple.

Unfortunately, this is a trend that has happened in Florida, particularly Central Florida, for a few decades. Rarely do Democrats pull off the upsets. Sometimes they do, like Kim Shepard’s victory over Bruce McEwan in 1992 (which Sheppard would eventually lose to Allen Trovillion two years later). But most of the time it is someone like John “Q” Quiñones, a Republican that loses a highly Democratic seat because the party either doesn’t do their research or, again, recruits poor candidates.

Hopefully the FDP and local parties in Central Florida will start to recruit candidates and get their paperwork in within the next 30 days. This will tell us if the Democratic Party is serious about targeting Central Florida. How come all the national political pundits realize that the “I-4 Corridor” is important, but the FDP doesn’t? Ass backwards if you ask me.

But I’m afraid that the Democrats aren’t working hard to get candidates for the State and Local offices in Central Florida. Yes, there are a few new faces that are out there. But besides that, nothing too impressive at all. Democrats need to start running their party like the Republicans do (organization that is, not issues). But as long as we continue to not care, be lazy and not work hard to recruit the right candidates to run for office, don’t bitch about Republicans being in control of the State of Florida.

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2 thoughts on “It’s nearly March…where are the candidates?

  1. Pingback: Fla. Progressive Political Post of the Day — Political Hurricane » Florida Progressive Coalition Blog -

  2. The answer is really quite simple… In the minds of the Democrat “leaders”, there’s really only one Democrat they are focused on; President Obama. President Obama had/has no coattails because he allows no coattails. Its all about Obama; period. The Party has no farm system because none of the fat-cat Democrat Incumbents want to lose there perceived power. Most potential “farm system” candidates are centrists, and simply cannot fall on the progressive sword. Progressives are to the Democrats what teapartiers are to the Republicans… And as always, the majority of Americans are centrists.

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