Since Friday afternoon, there was been an uproar in Democratic circles regarding the lack of any quality Democratic candidates, or in fact any candidates, running in seats where the Democrats can be competitive. As my co-contributor Kartik Krishnaiyer has mentioned over the past few days, the Democrats continue to fail when it come to recruiting candidates, especially along the I-4 corridor.
But who is really to blame for this failure?
Most people think that it is simple. Since Friday, people have been pointing the finger at Rod Smith and the Florida Democratic Party. And when looking at it from a nose-length, Smith and the FDP seem to be the easy scapegoats. But are they entirely responsible for the recent collapse? The answer is yes…and no.
As I mentioned in a previous article, people within the FDP were saying that they were concentrating on the presidential, senatorial and congressional races. This, I feel, should be the sole responsibility of Obama for America, the DSCC and the DCCC. In fact, that is how most states run. So, is there a lack of understanding of how a party structure works in Tallahassee? Possibly.
But because the FDP is more concerned about President Obama being elected instead of making gains in the Florida House and Senate, which usually happens in presidential years (with the exception of 2006), this shows that the FDP isn’t entirely organizationally sound. In addition, it seems that those who have made the poor decisions over the last 10 years continue to make the poor decisions for the party, thus putting us in the same position that we have been in. Basically, nothing has changed.
Even so, we point the finger at the FDP and Rod Smith and putting them as the sole reason that Democrats have failed. But there is another group that have failed which led to this political demise.
That group of people is us.
Back when Karen Thurman resigned as the FDP chair, Rod Smith was the first person to be considered for the position. Yes, some others mentioned that they were running for FDP chair as well, but they were eventually smooth-talked away from running by Smith’s people. Eventually, nobody ran against Smith and he took the FDP chair position unopposed.
People lined up behind Smith, even though he was a LG candidate for a campaign that lost despite getting every major newspaper endorsement in the State of Florida. They looked at him as their savior, and that he would bring the Democratic Party back from the brink of political extinction. They thought Democrats would raise more money, recruit more candidates and actually start taking back our government. Everyone was wrong.
Everyone was wrong, that is, expect one person. Me.
Back when Rod Smith was being considered the chair in 2010, I wrote an article about my concerns regarding him being the FDP chair. I closed my article with the following statement”
It will be interesting to see what direction the Party takes. If Smith becomes the Chair, we should just kept Karen Thurman in there, as I don’t see anything drastically changing.
Unfortunately, I was right. The Florida Democratic Party became even more useless than it did in the past (if that is even possible), leaving it to local DECs to recruit candidates with little or no help from the state party. The party, yet again, has failed.
But this isn’t all Rod Smith’s fault. Democrats from all around the state drank the Kool-Aid and though he would change things. Why did the members of the party’s State Committee think this was the case? I don’t know, but it was. The fact that nobody else challenged Smith for the chair in 2011 shows that it isn’t just Smith’s fault, but that nobody had the guts to take him on.
So, yes, I blame us in the Democratic Party for not fielding another candidate that had the vision to bring us into the 21st Century to take on Rod Smith. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Hopefully, we won’t make the same mistake again.