Our Endorsement: Alan Clendenin for Florida Democratic Party Chair.

clendenin300Democrats 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.

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26 thoughts on “Our Endorsement: Alan Clendenin for Florida Democratic Party Chair.

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Clendenin is prepared to lead and has the background and experience to do so. As the President has said, it is time to move FORWARD.

  2. The general consensus is that Clendenin is the only one prepared to lead the party away from the mistakes of the past and rebuild an infrastructure that will prevent us from declaring the capture of 65% of legislative seats by the opposition who lost the state at the Presidential level “historic.”

    Most activists in the state stand behind his candidacy, not simply because he’ll be a good chair but because his election will send a clear message to those whose leadership has cost us dearly over the last decade.

  3. I beg to differ with your assessment of the performance of the three Chairs cited: Maddox, Thurman & Smith. Each had their own strengths but the fundamental problem for the Party is the philosophy you espouse so many times on this website. You and your ilk are completely out-of-step with the people of Florida who are more centrist or center-right, except for Southeast Florida and minority-rich districts. The Party will NEVER become the majority so long as you bang business-friendly candidates like Ron Saunders and keep inferring that business and profit is a dirty word. So, the Party will be condemned to minority-status until you realize that to win majority status you need more than union and trial lawyer support that you must have business – the private sector which pays all of the taxes or enables everyone to pay their taxes through employment, by the way – on your side. Wake up and smell the roses. It doesn’t matter how often you blog it and how often you say it, Dem’s won’t be a majority again until their broaden their electoral and financial support. It’s difficult to win when you are outspent 3-1, 4-1, 5-1 by your opponents. The Presidential race was an exception and as your properly noted, the Dem victories in Congressional and state races was due primarily to redistricting. And if Dem’s nominate Charlie Crist as Sen. Graham suggested he could support it just shows everyone that the Party doesn’t have a worthy bench of candidates for future leadership and that victory at all costs is more important than anything else.

  4. I like Taddeo and think it would be good to have a Hispanic female chair for symbolism purposes. However, I like Alan also and if it comes down to him and Tant as it up is likely to, he is the clear choice.

  5. I think it is unfair to label all those chairs as failures. Smith certainly has been, but Thurman had an incredible mess to clean up and Maddox despite countless mistakes, and quite honestly a Napoleonic complex dealt with the consultants you always complain about. Unfortunately, Thurman and Smith have enabled them again. The party rules need reform and the sooner that is addressed the better. All three had assets though on the surface all three were unsuccessful in arresting the demise of our party.

    Still I think we all know that Tant does not belong as chair, and that this is a desperate power grab by politicos in Tallahassee and some elected officials. But I would urge your editorial board to take another look at Tadeo. She fits the demographic we need to secure long term, is a dynamic business owner and local leader and certainly is not tied to the existing power structure that has failed.

    Clendenin is a good choice as well but in boxes we need to check to determine a new chair he fits less than Tadeo but far more than Tant. He would be a good choice if it comes down him and Tant.

  6. Clendenin and Taddeo should team up and be an urban ticket that covers the spectrum race, gender, ethnicity wise. Tant, and the Tallahassee based insiders would not be able to beat that back.

  7. Thumb your noses at Tallahassee and you are nowhere. The capital, and cultural heart of the state and our traditional culture. The Democrats by becoming a SE and I-4 oriented party will as Barney says lose any semblance of being a competitive party statewide. You guys are crazy no matter how many stats you trot out to say North Florida doesn’t matter.

  8. I haven’t been asked to support her or anyone…I’ll leave that to active Dem’s that are entitled to vote on the matter…But I will add that historically, FDP staff have indeed gotten involved in Chair elections and I did as well when I was Executive Director back in the early 90’s. However, I think you raise a good point because it is not a good policy.

  9. Well, it comes down to self preservation.

    As far as the Democrat response, I was just being nice and trying to get an answer. I still think you are a strong Republican 🙂

  10. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion…but I’m still a Democrat, just a fiscally conservative one…I also ran the Democratic Leadership Council after I left the FDP and we always believed “Not left, not right, but a third way.” A centrist one. Of course we were accused by your philosophical predecessors as closet Repub’s and if that is what you believe, I don’t really care. But, in doing so you will be marginalizing many, many Dem’s, across Floprida and the country, just like me who are not liberal, but can be “progeressive” thinkers on some social issues. The bottom line, is that Dem’s will be a minoirty in the Florida state legislature until they understand that to win elections you have to be willing to compromise, not your principles – but around the edges – in order to get the people’s work done. Once elections are over, we want the campaign rhetoric gone and we want action to solve our state’s and antion’s problems. And that means not making business and profit so dirty that you can’t see that without employers no one has a job unless you work for yourself.

  11. Then explain why Barack Obama, who you and the business community did not endorse, won the state twice and Alex Sink, who is business friendly and won 60% of the “moderate” vote in 2010, lost? I guess this is where I can quote your hero Bill Clinton and say that the answer is very simple….math!

    But as far as your overall view, let me get this straight. You say that the opposition party, which is usually created to be a contrasting viewpoint to another political party, should NOT provide a contrasting viewpoint and cozy up to the viewpoint of the other party? Then I have to ask you….what would be the use of an opposition party?

    As far as the voters, who really make the decisions, they don’t give a rat’s ass who the AIF supports. This is where I think most of you (not just you Mr. Bishop but many others up in Tally), live in what I call the “Tallahassee Bubble”. You have no concept whatsoever on how voters think and vote. Mark Danish destroyed the point you are making. He was backed strongly by the unions in a swing district where a pro-business, AIF backed, AS WELL AS FJA BACKED, Shawn Harrison lost. Mark was outspend 15-1 going against everything you said and he was victorious. Those inside the Tallahassee Bubble didn’t see it coming. I did.

    There is a reason the DLC doesn’t exist anymore. There is a reason that the DLC’s presidential candidates can only win when there is a strong 3rd party candidate. There is a reason a liberal like Obama has now won the state twice, with no strong 3rd party candidate against him. The state is becoming more liberal.

    Of course, many want to return back to the political days of the southern conservative Democrat, but there has been a big change since the 1970s. That change is called non-Cuban Hispanics. Those that are cut of the old Democratic cloth are totally oblivious to the existence of Puerto Ricans in Central Florida, as well as other non-Cuban Hispanics throughout the state.

    So, since I have your attention, the question must be asked….why do you consider yourself a Democrat? You know where our party stands on the issues and yet you oppose them. The Republicans are more in line with your issues. Therefore you should join their party. Kind of like if I went to a FSU vs. UF game decked out in FSU gear, but started doing the Gator Chomp and cheering for the Gators. Makes no sense whatsoever.

    I used to be a DLC member and a conservative Democrat back in the early and mid 1990s. I actually started an organization called the Young Blue Dog Coalition. I met with Gene Taylor, Charlie Stenhom, Bill Brewster, Glen Browder, Bill Orton and John Tanner (who I am glad is a big Chicago Cubs fan) in Washington DC and actually sat in on a Blue Dog meeting, which I still consider on honor even to this day. I thought just like you, but I eventually realized that I was a very small minority in my own party. If you don’t believe me, here is a photo of me with Charlie Stenholm:

    With Gene Taylor:

    With Bill Brewster (not my proudest face):

    Even with Governor Chiles while wearing a DLC button!!:

    I actually switched parties when I realized I was on the wrong side. Of course, I know my views on the positions were incorrect and that the liberal way is the only true, compassionate way to conduct government. But at least I had the balls to switch parties when I disagree with my party. When I was blind conservative, I realized that the Democratic Party wasn’t my party. And I realized this when I was 22! You are much older and wiser and should be able to realize that more than some snot-nosed 22 year old kid.

    There is absolutely no logic whatsoever in your decision to remain a Democrat with the exception of making money by starting “Democrats for (Insert Republican Name Here)” organizations and trying to add some legitimacy to them. Otherwise, it is absolutely, unbelievably pointless and illogical for you to remain a Democrat.

  12. To respond point-by-point:
    Why did Obama win?…because he won the GOTV game…if you think the state is going more liberal, you’re on better drugs than I am (and I’m on some pretty damn good drugs!)…Obama won, and you know this, because it was a Presidential election and the national GOTV created a strong wave…good for him, but in my judgment, terrible for the country…

    Alex Sink biz friendly? Not on your life…I’ve known her for years and I spoke to her at the beginning of her race and despite the fact that she fooled many biz leaders (like Bill Nelson did), she is with the unions and trial lawyers and NOT with the biz community on key issues…but you can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time and biz leaders can be fooled also…

    Contrasting view? No, you’re projecting… I never said that…party’s should have contrasting views…but your view is NEVER going to get the Dem’s back to majority status in the legislature…yes, you can win races when you are outspent…I fundraised for Gerlad Lewis against Bob Milligan and we outspent him 10-1 and he still won…but don’t think for a moment that that is the rule because you would be fooling yourself…it is the exception to the rule, almost always…

    Who biz supports? Yep, your absolutely right no one cares who AIF or the Chamber endorses…BUT the candidates do!

    And DLC? Yes, you are again right on point…but you’re forgetting my underlying message: liberals, progressives, whatever you want to call yourselves are the smallest philosophical minority in this country, around 22%…conservatives are higher, but most Floridians and Americans are centrists – in the middle…that’s not the message that your website keeps pushing…and you have every right to push it…but don’t lament the lack of success in politics when the numbers are against you to begin with…

    So why am I Dem? Becasue I WANT to be a Dem…and that’s my right and privilege…I don’t support Dem’s at the national level because they are free-spenders and they want to create a utopia and there is no such thing as that and Europe has proved that so well…it is an unsustainable model…I’m a Dem because when I was 9 years old I watched the Kennedy-Nixon debate and I decided then to be a Democrat…I’ve had plenty of offers to switch…but it is my perogative to stay and fight the left wing of the party because it is a danger to the fiscal future of this party…if you had gone by my home during campaign season, every federal sign was for a Repub and every local sign was for a Dem…in this country we are all entitled to support who we want…you don’t believe I should be able to call myself a “lifelong Dem” but that is factually true…the fact that I support Repub’s on fiscal matters is because that is where my heart is…as to whether it is illogical or not, again you are entitled to your opinion…it’s not about “balls” it’s about conscience and what I feel is that it is my right as an American to decide what to call myself…I’m still a registered Dem…for your own ephipany on switching, I congratulate you…but I’ll do things my way…I’ve learned that I can can help make change from the inside…whether you think my website was iabout money or not is immaterial to the issue itself…I could care less what you think or write…it’s merely a red herring that you like to throw out there…but don’t think for a minute that you are so smart and somehow I’m not as smart to make my own decisions…I have free will, whether you like it or not…your logic is just that – YOURS…my logic is what drives me…I will always remain a Dem because I don’t believe in swithcing party’s…to attack me for not switching is again, YOUR choice but once again you forget that there are millions of Americans just like me that are conservative Dem’s…I didn’t respond to your recent attacking blog because I chose not to…you are entitled to your opinion…but don’t try and tell me what I should do…if you want everyone to be a Dem only if they are liberal or progressive like you, I repsectfully suggest that you start a new party because you’ll NEVER convince us that we HAVE to leave the Party..and it’s why your and your friends will remain a minority party in Florida

  13. Yes, what I am saying might be an attack. But I attack it because it is illogical and nothing more.

    You still don’t answer WHY you are a Democrat. From what I see, the only answer that you provide is “Because I WANT to be a Dem”, “I watched Kennedy on TV” and “I don’t believe in switching parties”. Really? That is your final answer? You don’t want to expand any more on that? I’m sorry, but that might be one of the worst political arguments that I have ever heard (which includes a debate with a guy who said Canadians hate their health care because they can’t drive).

    I’m a Democrat because I believe in an overwhelming majority of principals of the Democratic Party, with the exception of one or two issues. I’m not a Democrat because I watched someone on TV one day. I’m not a Democrat because the first political contest I ever followed was the Chicago Mayoral race of 1983. I was not a Democrat because of some superficial reason. I am a Democrat because I believe in the core values of the party.

    Again, you can’t give any real reason why you are a “Democrat”. And I truly think that people are starting to see through you shtick routine of the “Democrats for (GOP Name Here)” concept.

    As far as being a minority in Florida politics, the slide started when YOU were ED of the FDP. In 1992, Democrats lost control of the State Senate. We also lost more seats in the State House as well.

    As much as you want to blame us “liberals” for destroying the party, the pure fact is that EVERYONE that has been running the party since you left has either had some sort of North Florida or DLC influence. Therefore, the structure of the FDP has NOT gotten more liberal. In fact, it remains to tout the same things that you and other north Florida “Democrats” advocate. Therefore, you can’t blame us for ruining the party…..liberals haven’t been in control of it.

    Still, you can’t answer why a progressive like Mark Danish won. You also said Obama won because he had a good GOTV? EXACTLY!!!! PEOPLE TURNED OUT TO VOTE FOR THE LIBERAL!!!!! Liberals are winning in the state, conservative Democrats are losing! Those are just the facts, my friend.

    As much as you want to say that the “liberals” are the problem with the FDP, it isn’t. There are two huge problems. First, those running the party live in the Tallahassee Bubble and have a non-winning mentality. Second, candidate recruitment is crap.

    As far as the Europe remarks, I will just leave that alone. I have studied, quite extensively, international political economy, particularly in Eastern Europe. I have just completed an essay regarding Bulgarian social and judicial policy in relationship to their acceptance (or lack of) in the Schengen Zone. Also, when I was at the University of Utah, I extensively studied the presidency of Francois Mitterrand and did a senior seminar on social and domestic economic significance of the 110 Propositions for France program.

    If you want to take off the gloves on Europe, I would be more than happy. But I think we should just stick to Florida 🙂

  14. As I posted on the Smith piece : The weighted vote needs to be eliminated. Right now Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, Orange, Pinellas and Hillsborough can choose a chair with minimal outside support. You wonder why Obama lost 56 of 67 counties????? The focus of the party has become narrow and based around these counties exclusively.

    Democrats elect a grand total of one non African-American House member from outside these counties. ONE! I mean how can you be a statewide player with this reality!

  15. North Florida does matter. I like Taddeo. I think it should be her. I think it is NUTS to try to put Bush’s person in. Oh yeah Alan is also pushing Crist…enough said.

  16. I have spoken to Alan Clendenin and he is absolutely NOT supporting anyone in any election. He believes, as I do, that the people should choose their nominee and then the Democratic organization should rally around and support the people’s choice.

  17. Although he cannot now (she lost her race for State Committeewoman), I thought Alan was going to run a slate and choose Alma Gonzalez as Vice Chair?

    In any event, I like Allison Tant Richard. She is an excellent fundraiser, she is a lifelong progressive Democrat, and she is able to use her lifetime of experience and connections to obtain the valuable resources necessary to beat Rick Scott.

    Also, lets stop this attack by association of her husband. Its out of order to go after someone’s family. It is totally inappropriate.

    As for the state party staff, I think they did an amazing job this last go-around. We kept Florida blue for Obama and Nelson, we flipped some congressional seats, and the Governor no longer enjoys veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate.

    I like Alan and I don’t have a negative thing to say about him, but I think we have a stronger choice in Allison Tant Richard and I hope she gets elected!

  18. Allison, while a lovely person, is not experienced enough in being a Chair of a major party or in Organizing. She raises money like no one I’ve ever known but that alone won’t make her a good Chair. We activists even in rural republican held counties need to feel a part of the party structure. And so far I don’t see that happening unless Alan Clendenin is elected chair. DWS should butt out. We don’t need her interference.

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