When Florida’s Democrats gather this weekend in Hollywood for the party’s biggest annual event, our hope is that discussions are ongoing about the future of the FDP. While have been quite critical of the party on this website over the past several months, we do hold out hope for change. We do not criticize the party lightly: after all we are all Florida Democrats and I personally am a former staffer of both state and local parties. I cheer for Democratic victories in this state in a passionate manner similar to how many sports fan cheer on their favorite sides.
But after almost two decades of complete malaise it is important Florida’s Democrats wake up and realize the opportunities presented by Republican overreach and significant demographic changes in the state have been largely squandered. These opportunities will continue to present themselves for several reasons. After all, the Republicans represent an arrogant, out of touch majority who have fostered a culture of corruption and cronyism around state government. Demographic shifts since 2005 in Florida’s urban areas outside of West Central Florida almost universally favor the Democrats.
Since 2000 Florida Republicans have stolen a Presidential election in Florida, stolen a Congressional election in the state, and benefited from rigging the system in countless close legislative elections. Yet time and again, Florida’s Democrats have gone along to get along with a GOP characterized by corruption, cronyism and intellectual dishonesty.
Florida’s Democratic leaders have for too long existed in a vacuum, missing out on opportunities. At the same time they have made themselves overly dependent on the very same Tallahassee interests who have a vested interest in maintaining a GOP legislative majority. Recently, Florida Democrats have claimed state legislative races are far from their greatest priority. Considering how successfully President Obama’s 2008 campaign organized and targeted in Florida, it is unlikely that the state party needs to spend 80%-90% of its time on national elections (President and US Senate.)
Here is hoping that a gathering of Democrats from across the state whose primary interest is on state issues will help to refocus the FDP on the tremendous opportunities that are present in the majority of legislative districts from Daytona Beach southward. We will remain vigilant in critiquing the party where they go wrong, but hold out hope that events like the one in Hollywood this weekend will serve as a springboard for the party to rebuild itself in a logical manner.
Personal note: I am out of the state on business and will not be attending this year’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.