Democrats in the State of Florida have been seeking significant change in the Florida Democratic Party for some time. Over the last twenty two years, Democrats have gone from controlling the Florida House of Representative and Florida Senate to being weak minorities in both. And in a state in which the Democratic candidate for president has won three (really four) of the last five elections, the Florida Democratic Party continues to slide.
Over the last ten years, the Florida Democratic Party has been run by those that have contributed very little to changing the party. Scott Maddox, Karen Thurman and Rod Smith have been far from productive as heads of the party. In addition, much of the staff that they have brought on board have been less than stellar and often times highly inadequate in their job performance. Things such as candidate recruitment, campaign and candidate training and targeting certain races, which should be a top priority as well as second nature to any political party staff, has been severely lacking in the Florida Democratic Party.
Currently, we have three candidates running for chair of the Florida Democratic Party; Allison Tant, Annette Taddeo and Alan Clendenin. The the opinion of The Political Hurricane, the choice for this position is very clear cut, Alan Clendenin.
Many of those that read our website know that we have a progressive bias. And while we feel that Mr. Clendenin is a true progressive, this was not a determining factor in our decision to endorse his candidacy.
The main reason we have decided to endorse Mr. Clendenin is because he is the only candidate with a real plan to restructure the Florida Democratic Party system. With the exception of a few changes over the years, the Florida Democratic Party has run the same operation. Mr. Clendenin brings a breath of fresh air and new hope of victory for Democrats.
In his plan titled Rebrand, Rebuild and Recruit, Mr. Clendenin addresses many of the issues that this website has advocated over the past two years. Mr. Clendenin seems to have incorporated many of the ideas that true Democrats around the state support. He understands that recruitment is a very high priority for the state, as well as building the party from the bottom up. The current failed structure, which works in a trickle-down manner, has been highly disappointing.
Still, our selection of Mr. Clendenin for this position is not just based on the fact that we feel that he has a plan to see the Florida Democratic Party succeed. He also has the experience to see his plan through to the end. As a Democratic National Committee member, as well as a member of the Florida Democratic Party Platform, Campaign, Rules and By-Laws and Finance committees, Mr. Clendenin is the only true candidate that can show that he has experience in party politics. Not only does he have the experience in Hillsborough County, which was one of the most successful counties for Democrats in 2012, but in state party politics as well. This means that Mr. Clendenin can objectively look at how the party is operating on “day one” and not be influenced by current party insiders and Tallahassee lobbyists who are only looking to score business from the Florida Democratic Party.
As for the other candidates for this position, we really do not understand why they have thrown their hat into the ring. Neither Allison Tant nor Annette Taddeo have presented a plan for moving the party toward a successful future. In addition, neither of them possess any concrete experience in either state or local Democratic Party politics.
It can be argued that the last three chairs for the Florida Democratic Party have tried to use the party as a stepping stone toward higher office or increase their power in Tallahassee. Much like Taddeo and Tant, none of them had a concrete plan to move the party forward. As a result, we have the most Republican legislature of any state that President Obama won in 2012.
As for Mrs. Taddeo, we truly do not understand her entry into this race, but her profile is appealing and she can be a positive contributor to the party’s renaissance in a position other than Chair. On the other hand, we do understand that Mrs. Tant has been pushed by party officials, particularly Bill Nelson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and local activists in Central Florida, to run for this position. While her resume and lack of plan leaves a lot to be desired, the pressure by these high-powered politicians to elect Mrs. Tant seems to show other possible motives.
In addition, The Political Hurricane does have concerns regarding Mrs. Tant’s spouse, former George W. Bush attorney Barry Richard. While we do understand that Mr. Richard is a Democrat and actively campaigned for President Obama, we feel that his involvement in the Bush vs. Gore case is inexcusable as well as a cardinal sin in the Democratic Party. Democrats, from time to time, end up supporting candidates that are not the Democratic nominee. Many supported Charlie Crist over Kendrick Meek in the 2010 Senate race. But for a Democrat to support George W. Bush in a legal capacity is the biggest of all “no-nos”. If Mr. Richard had no problem representing George W. Bush in a legal capacity, we feel quite nervous that he could possibly have his hands in the cookie jar of the Florida Democratic Party.
We also are concerned that Ms. Tant would simply serve as a fundraiser, leaving the functions of being a dynamic leader of the party to staff and elected officials. The power vacuum that would occur could lead to increased polarization and chaos in a critical election year. Ms. Tant would be an excellent member of a revitalized Finance Committee for the Florida Democratic Party, a committee that Mr. Clendenin has pledged to bring back to prominence in the state organization.
When all is said and done, there is really only one candidate that has both the plan and the experience to run the Florida Democratic Party, and that is Alan Clendenin. Unlike the other candidates, where politicians, party staff and political consultants asked them to run, Mr. Clendenin decided to run on his own, then ask for support based on his experience and concrete plan.
We Florida Democrats are at a very important time in our history. If we plan to make progress, we must do it now. We can no longer support a lethargic Florida Democratic Party which sits on its hands and does nothing while the Republicans are already actively organizing for the next election cycle. We truly need someone that has a plan to get us on track.
And to those of you who will be voting for the chair, we ask you to vote for who you think will bring the Florida Democratic Party back from the abyss. Many politicians will pressure you to vote for their choice, claiming that they will be the best choice for the party. We have listened to these politicians in the past and each time they have been incorrect. Do what you feel is right. Look at all the candidates. Examine their experience. Also, examine their plans for the Florida Democratic Party.
In the end, we feel that there will only be on absolutely clear choice, and that is Mr. Clendenin.