We at the Political Hurricane have decided that we are going to give annual award to those that we feel have been instrumental in both building the progressive cause as well as the Democratic Party. As well as our weekly awards, we will make our choices wisely and consider everyone for these positions. Therefore, we present you with the 2012 Political Hurricane Award Winners:
Progressive of the Year: Nan Rich – In the Florida Senate, many of the members could sell out on their progressive message. This was not the case with Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich. Instead of bending on key legislation, Sen. Rich stood strong and fought hard to make sure that progressives had a voice in the Senate. If it wasn’t for the hard work of senators like Sen. Rich, the “parent trigger” bill could have become reality. Sen. Rich was one of only two senators (along with Sen. Joyner) that scored 100% on the Political Hurricane scorecard. Usually leaders are forced to moderate, but Senator Rich stood by her convictions.
Organization of the Year: Organizing for America – Florida – In a year which President Obama was expected to lose Florida, he didn’t. Much like the 2008 election, the OFA organization was able to step up and deliver Florida to President Obama. He became the first Democrat to win Florida two times in a row since FDR in 1940 and the only Democrat to win the state twice in the post-civil rights era. Much of this had to do with the ground efforts of OFA, which never slowed down.
Organizer of the Year: Carmen Torres – Going into the 2012 election, one of the biggest questions regarding the Central Florida Hispanic vote was whether it would vote for Democrats of non-Hispanic descent over Republicans of Hispanic descent. Carmen Torres was highly instrumental in working both Orange and Osceola County Hispanic communities to rally them behind the Democratic cause. In previous elections, Hispanics in Central Florida would sway from one party to another. But with strong grassroots organization, as well a strong grasp of organizing Latinos, Carmen Torres turned the tide and Hispanics in Central Florida voted strongly for President Obama as well as local Democrats. Her organization efforts, we feel, were highly important in winning House District 49, Senate District 14 and, possibly, Florida’s 29 electoral votes.
Candidate of the Year: Mike Clelland – While knocking off Chris Dorworth was a task worthy of this position, it isn’t the only reason why we are awarding Mike Clelland as the Candidate of the Year. Early on in his campaign, Rep. Clelland strived to make his campaign successful. From day one he focused on fundraising and grassroots organizations. While help from the Orlando Sentinel tightened the race, if Rep. Clelland’s campaign didn’t work hard in the early days of the campiang, they might not have been in that position. Mr. Clellands perseverance paid off, and now he is heading to Tallahassee.
Congressman/woman of the Year: Kathy Castor – Congresswoman Castor remains one of the strongest progressive voices in Congress. Unlike other members, which cave in due to pressure from lobbyists and special interest groups, Rep. Castor continues to hold her chin high and sticks up for the average Floridian. She has been this strong since the minute she arrived in Washington, DC, and we assume that she will continue to stay that strong.
House Member of the Year: Mark Pafford – Representative Pafford continues to be one of the strongest progressive voices in Tallahassee, where he speaks his mind instead of saying what is popular. Like with Nan Rich in the Senate, Mr. Pafford scored 100% on our scorecard (as well as a number of others). In addition to being productive in Tallahassee, he takes a keen interest in events happening in Palm Beach County. Pafford also took on Florida’s Division of Elections attempt to purge citizens from the voter rolls. He truly understands that all politics are local. He is a strong voice for the future of progressive politics in Florida.
Senate Member of the Year: Nan Rich – Read above.
Young Progressive of the Year: Anna Vishkaee Eskamani – In the few years that she has been involved in politics, Anna has already shown that she has the leadership skills that is needed to push the party forward. As Vice-President of the UCF College Democrats, she has worked with others to make them one of most, if not the most, active College Dems organization in the state. In addition, she has been involved with Orange County and statewide politics. She has been a strong advocate for women’s issues and continues to show passion for progressive causes. We expect to see many great things from her in the future.
DEC of the Year: Hillsborough County DEC – If there is one county that really made an impact in Florida politics, it was Hillsborough County. This was one of the counties where Obama improved the most. Going into Election Day, many expected the president to do worse here. But he didn’t. On top of that, the Hillsborough County DEC was instrumental in knocking off Ronda Storms in her bid for Property Appraiser. They were also instrumental in making State House races closer. Overall, the Hillsborough County DEC showed that they were strong and are a force to be reckoned with in the future of Democratic politics in Florida.