Previously, I was going to make this a five part series. But because I have addressed most of the issues in the last part, I will then jump to my conclusions and why this is all very important. First, I will talk about the actual race for Florida Democratic Party chair. Then I will touch on a personal note.
So, let’s talk about the Chair’s race. Over the last few weeks, we have presented a number of facts regarding this race. Take them as you will, but I feel that knowing everything about everyone involved with the race is vitally important.
When looking at both candidates, I did a lot of research. Not only did I examine their past connections, but people they were currently connected to as well. But this wasn’t the only criteria that I considered. Because I wanted to see Democrats win, it is very important that someone has a plan to lead us to success.
First, let’s look at the plan. Mr. Clendenin has a plan while Mrs. Tant does not. Easy to see who wins on that one.
Second, I looked at the contributions of both candidates. Mr. Clendenin has been a strong supporter for Democrats as far as his contributions. While not being wealthy like Mrs. Tant, Mr. Clendenin has contributed 100% to Democratic candidates, including strong progressives like Linda Stewart, Victor Torres and Ian Whitney.
Mrs. Tant, on the other hand, does not seem to have a strong record when it comes to solely contributing to Democrats, showing that she also donates to Republicans. Even with donations to moderate Republicans like Dennis Jones, others like conservatives Marti Coley and Apryl Marie Fogel received donations as recently as 2006 and 2007, respectively. Those that support Mrs. Tant say that this is because “she was a lobbyist and must play both sides”. There are two very strong flaws with that argument. First, according to the State of Florida, Mrs. Tant wasn’t a lobbyist after 2001. Thus any donations that were made after this really cannot be contributed to her “being a lobbyist”. Second, because Mrs. Tant has contributed to Republicans after being a lobbyist, how can we trust that she would fairly contest all seats? We need to have a chair that doesn’t have any personal feelings toward any Republican candidates, which might lead to a lack of recruitment, particularly in a key district.
After looking at the contributions, I looked at the lobbying efforts of both candidates. As far as Mr. Clendenin, I didn’t see him on any of the lobbying registers, at least in Tallahassee. As for Mrs. Tant, I discovered that she was a lobbyist for DBT Online as well as ChoicePoint, both companies that were involved with the “central voter file” scandal. When we brought this to light, Mrs. Tant first denied that she lobbied for DBT Online, but then her former associate Martha Barnett stated that she did. Flip-flopping on a matter like this is important when judging the character of an individual seeking the office of “top Democrat” in Florida.
After that, I looked into the financial and political connections between the two candidates. Again,with Mr. Clendenin, I did have some worries about his connection with Floridians for Effective Leadership, Inc. Still, the registered agent for this organization is Steve Vancore, a Democratic strategist which makes a lot of money from the current Florida Democratic Party structure. This wasn’t some right-wing organization that the FDP opposed. Therefore, any worries regarding that connection ended very quickly.
As far as Mrs. Tant, I feel that she does have some connections to people who seek to just make money off the party, thus keeping the current structure in place would benefit all of those that seek to make money. The articles over the last few days talks about organizations that only partially contribute to the discussion, but are also involved with making money. I will refer anyone to those articles for more information.
The only reason that I initially looked into both candidates was because of the involvement of the Florida Democratic Party staff in Mrs. Tant’s campaign. Currently, FDP Executive Director Scott Arceaneaux is working as Tant’s campaign manager, with Christian Ulvert, the lead consultant for House Victory, also actively involved. If these and other staffers actually let the party pick their next chair without any interference, then I would have a lot more respect for them. But because they have picked a side, one must wonder why. Why would they think that Mr. Clendenin wouldn’t work with them? Again, there is a lot of money tied up in Florida Democratic politics, and some will want to make sure that gravy train keeps rolling. Just for your information, Mr. Ulvert’s company EDGE Communication has made $1.14 million off of the Democrats over the last four years, with $284,733 coming directly from the Florida Democratic Party. And one must say, for that money, Democrats aren’t getting a good return on investment.
Therefore, when looking at the race for party chair, I truly think there is only one choice. Mr. Clendenin has a plan to move the party forward. This is a solid plan as well. He has been a solid contributor to Democrats in the State of Florida and has not lobbied of any interests that are against Democratic values.
As for Mrs. Tant, she has been running for the position for quite a few weeks now and has yet to present a plan for how she will move the party forward. Those that are running her campaign are those that have put the party in the shape that it is in currently. Her lobbying for DBT Online is quite questionable, while her donations to right-wing Republican candidates after her lobbying days are just as suspicious.
Honestly, the choice for Chair, if someone were to look at it in an unbiased way, is quite simple.
Of course, this race has been heated. I feel that this is the case because we have two very different candidates. In the past, there have never been candidates running for this position that have actually taken the time to write a plan. Instead, they have always said “vote for me because of who I am”. Yes, this current race for the State Party Chair is painful, but one more month of brutal pain can help stop the 20 years of constant pain that the current Florida Democratic Party structure has given us.
When Election Day 2014 comes along, I want to be able to walk into the voting booth, look at the ballot, see the list of Democratic candidates and have a smile on my face. I would like to see qualified Democrats on the ballot in every position. And when I vote for those Democrats, not only do I want to have the confidence of knowing that these candidates might win, but I can feel proud of the fact that I have voted for good people as well. I want to be able to look at my party, election after election, and say that we did the best we could, no matter what the result. We currently don’t do that.
This brings me to my personal point.
Over the last few days, I have gone after some organizations rather hard. Yes, I feel that there is some sketchy things going on, and I am not alone in these feelings. And yes, I think that these organizations will influence the race for the Florida Democratic Party Chair, especially after some phone calls that I had with the Chair of Florida Watch Action not so long ago. I don’t want to see this party used to make people rich. I just want to see this party take back Florida.
In these last few days, there have been two charges toward me that I wish to address. The first one is that I am against women. Just because I have questioned a few organizations that are headed by women, that does not make me a misogynist, even though some people have stated so. I feel that calling someone anti-woman is just as bad as calling someone a racist. Claiming someone is anti-woman or even a racist (which nobody has claimed that I am) just cheapens the argument. It is as crazy as saying that if someone supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary, they must be against African-Americans. Again, this has no place in the debate whatsoever and those that do these types of attacks are no longer worthy of any response. That is why I am ending that here and now.
The second charge is that I am, somehow, being paid for doing what I do. Of course, this mostly comes from people that get paid in the world of politics. I don’t. Yes, I have in the past, and even quite recently, but it isn’t a career for me. I might look into it in the future, but right now I don’t care to go into the actual business of campaign politics.
The reason that I am as involved with this as I am is because of that 20 years of pain that Florida Democrats have to suffer. We all have our issues that are very important to us, and which makes us progressives. For me it is health care for all. For you it might be gay rights, women’s rights, civil rights, jobs or any other important issue. No matter what the issue is, we know that the best way to get our agenda passed is by getting Democrats elected to the Florida House and Senate, and to local offices as well. And right now, Mrs. Tant doesn’t offer anything constructive.
Earlier tonight, I saw Les Miserables, which is an absolutely amazing movie. I do not want to spoil it for anyone that hasn’t seen it, but there is a scene when a group of young revolutionaries are fighting against King Charles X’s forces in the July Revolution of 1830. These men, and women, were not fighting because there was money involved. They weren’t fighting because it might give them title or status. They were fighting because the cause was right and just. Same as our brave soldiers at Valley Forge, or as the Union soldiers that charged the stone wall in the Battle of Fredericksburg. Some might see this fight in the eyes of those from our past, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr or Susan B. Anthony. Some might even see it in the eyes of those today, like Senator Bernie Sanders here in the Untied States or Mohamed Bouazizi, the father of the Arab Spring. In all, these people sought to bring about the greater good, not because they had money invested in something, but because they saw it as a good and just fight. That is how I see this fight for the Chair of the Florida Democratic Party. We have an amazing state in which we can bring about revolutionary progressive change. But we need the leadership in Tallahassee to do it.
Make no mistake about it, the well-being of the Florida Democratic Party is my top priority. Why? So that people can go to a hospital without worrying about going into debt. So that everyone has equal rights. So that we have quality, high paying jobs. So that we can provide quality education to our children and not sell out their education. I take this race seriously so we can turn back the 20 years of Republican domination of our state and return it back to the people. The Florida Democratic Party is the only group that can do that, and we need to have a strong group that will forge a new course.
Because having a Democratic Florida is very important for our future, I will make sure that the Party is held accountable for every action it takes, no matter the chair. I will be one of the first people to congratulate whoever wins the position. But I will also make sure that their actions are in the best interest of the party. If Mr. Clendenin is doing something as chair that goes against our Democratic Party principles, we will hold his feet to the fire. If Mrs. Tant does something positive for the Party and moves it in the right direction, we will give great praise. This isn’t about me, it isn’t about Mrs. Tant and it isn’t about Mr. Clendenin. It is about that child that cannot get a quality education because a Republican-led legislature has just cut education funding. It is about a bigger cause.
I feel strongly about this position and will continue to do so. I do not receive any money in this endeavor. In addition, if Mr. Clendenin is elected, I will not be actively seeking any position with the Florida Democratic Party. If I am offered a position, I will not be accepting. As of right now, working on my graduate work and trying to get into the best PhD program possible is my top priority, as well as my job that I currently hold. Therefore, I can assure you that my decision is not driven by the desire of riches, but instead by the conviction of what is right.
Twenty years of suffering for Florida Democrats is long enough. It is time we mend our party and move forward.