In the past few weeks we’ve seen on this site a large number of reader commentary regarding the inability of the Florida Democratic Party to properly recruit, train and run candidates. The failure to properly target seats and find Democrats to run in winnable districts reflects very poorly on the FDP. An argument can also be strongly made that the entire structure and priorities of local Democratic Executive Committees are wrong.
While their have been many previous discussions internally about reform within the party it seems 2012 could be the tipping point. Local DECs have hobbled forward for election cycle after election cycle without any real direction or initiative. The FDP has done little work on giving local DECs in the most important counties in the state any sort of positive direction, and worse yet have failed to enforce the long established rules of the party with regards to local DECs and Democratic clubs.
The decentralized nature of both the statewide party structure and local DECs have served the party badly over the past two decades. Florida’s Democrats have become too comfortable with the laissez-faire approach where accountability for poor electoral performance is non-existent. Many local officials in Democratic Executive Committees are interested in status and perception of some prestige within the party. While some DECs do a decent job and put in the effort to recruit workers and train them appropriately, they do so in a vacuum with no guidance or interaction from the state party.
But DEC’s need to work on recruiting local candidates, training precinct captains to turn out the vote, training potential campaign workers, and also to be the central hub for all Democratic related matters in a county. The continued use of DECs to promote personal political agendas or political consulting practices have led even the strongest Democratic counties in the state to be under-performers in critical elections.
The failure of both the FDP and local DECs to properly turn “Fair Districts” into the boon it should have been for Democratic candidates has represented a tipping point in the battle to reform the party. The failure of some of the most winnable districts in the state not currently held by a Democrat to even be contested has many local activists and concerned interest groups talking about wholesale changes to the way both local DECs and the state party operate.
The winds of change are blowing. Will Florida’s Democratic leaders be smart enough to heed the warning and get in the conductors’ seat of the train? If not, chances are they will be run over following the November 2012 election.