Tant’s Party Memo Shows Promise: Analysis

On New Years Eve, FDP Chair candidate Allison Tant released a memo outlining a few thoughts she has about the direction of the Democratic Party. She calls it her “Five Pillars for Success.”

I am pleased to see that Tant has shown she takes the role of being Chair seriously by offering her vision for where our party needs to go into the future. Let’s look at Tant’s memo and my analysis:

1.  Empower Local Democratic Parties

The Florida Democratic Party can be its strongest when we empower local Democratic parties across the state. By positioning the Florida Democratic Party to serve as a hub of resources for local Democratic parties we can better provide key resources, such as email management programs, voter contact programs and fundraising softwares at cost effective prices. When local Democratic parties partner with the state party by utilizing the same programs and systems we can have a fully integrated system that streamlines data sharing and allows for real-time information sharing. As a component of strengthening the position of the state party and empower our local parties, I would like to add regional staff to help with fundraising, field and political activities. Additionally, the Florida Democratic Party will make investments in leadership development and trainings to allow for team building and leadership skills to grow from the bottom up. 

2.  Secure High-Tech Infrastructures

In 2008 and 2012, we learned the benefits of having high-tech infrastructures as part of campaign operations. In particular, 2012 showed that President Obama’s electoral successes in battleground states like Florida was highly dependent on data management and voter targeting. As part of an integrated and coordinated campaign operation, the Florida Democratic Party will make investments in high-tech infrastructures that include upgrades to data management programs and voter targeting systems that allow the state party, local Democratic parties and candidates to benefit from the latest technologies.

3.  Recruit Strong Candidates
A central component of the Florida Democratic Party’s operations must be to identify and recruit strong candidates to run at every level of office. In 2012, Florida Democrats won up and down the ballot because of the strength of our candidates. It is important that we continue to focus our efforts in aggressive candidate outreach so we have candidates from within their communities step up and run for elected office.

4.  Activate a Lasting Fundraising Operation

The successes of the Florida Democratic Party are best measured by its ability to implement an aggressive and robust fundraising operation. To implement the many components of a successful coordinated campaign operation, it requires significant resources. My focus will be to develop a lasting fundraising operation through high and small dollar contributions from Democrats across the state and nation. Florida continues to play a critical role on the national level and as such, we must harness and cultivate traditional and non-traditional donors who can make important financial commitments to the state party so we can make the needed investments around the state. In the short-term, to lay the groundwork for the critical 2014 elections, I will focus on three important tasks noted below.

           

Establish a Governor’s Fund – Our work to elect a Democratic Governor in 2014 is paramount. It will take significant resources, which is why I would like to immediately establish a Governor’s Fund where funds are raised to support the Democratic Nominee in the General Election.
 
Cultivate & Engage Obama Donors – Having spent years raising funds for President Obama’s 2008 & 2012 campaigns, I know there are many donors who contributed to President Obama, but have not invested in the Florida Democratic Party. As Chair, I will spend time cultivating these donors and bringing them on board as Florida Democratic Party donors so we can grow our donor base and fundraising capacity.
 
Board of Trustees – An important component of the Florida Democratic Party’s leadership structure is having a Board of Trustees to help shape and guide our fundraising operations. Through the Board of Trustees, we can expand and grow our donor base by having a committed group of Florida Democrats engaged in aggressive fundraising to achieve our ambitious goals that will allow the Pillars of Success to by fully implemented.

5. Engage Party Faithful & Activists

The countless hours contributed every day by the party faithful and activists across the state is what makes the Florida Democratic Party a success. As chair, I will continue to bring together our grassroots leaders and activists and encourage greater involvement throughout the legislative sessions and election cycles. Through leadership trainings and workshops, we can better grow our grassroots and keep them involved in key battles that take place in our state’s capital and across county and city halls. The best tool to effectively keep our grassroots leaders and activists engaged is to have open and ongoing communication. As chair, I intend to have an integrated and coordinated communications program that brings our party leaders, elected officials, grassroots leaders and activists together through the active sharing of information.

My work as your chair will be my full-time focus because the work ahead requires nothing less. The Florida Democratic Party’s Pillars of Success is an ambitious plan to build a highly coordinated and interactive state party that paves the way for us to have many victories in 2014 and beyond. However, this plan cannot be fully implemented without significant financial resources.  Therefore, one of my major priorities will be to work every day to aggressively raise the dollars needed to ensure we can successful implement the Five Pillars of Success and deliver many resources to local Democratic parties across Florida. Without financial resources, none of this can get done. And more importantly, without your support, we will not move forward!

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My thoughts about this memo are as follows.
  • I am pleased to see Tant discuss voter technology. The party has done a poor job of this. While they have gotten better recently, the voter file’s inadequacies are still a sore subject for a number of candidates and local DECs.  Tant’s willingness to take this on as an issue shows she’s been talking to people around the state and understands what a disaster this has been. The party has a lot of functions but I would argue maintain good voter information, targeting numbers and other data is quite possibly the MOST important single function of a state party.
  • Tant is correct in her proposals to help local DECs with IT capabilities and voter contact information. This has been an issue for sometime with DECs. However, this narrative is similar to what Alan Clendenin, Tant’s opposition for the FDP Chair has offered in his plan.
  • It is great that Tant mentions recruiting strong candidates. However, unlike Clendenin who clearly articulates in his plan how he’d rebuild the Democratic bench beyond simply “recruiting strong candidates” Tant doesn’t offer any specifics or a timeline. As we have stated repeatedly on this site, I personally know that the GOP has already begun recruiting legislative candidates for 2014 and the Democrats have not. Moreover, the Republicans have a mechanism for recruiting candidates similar to the proposal Clendenin has laid out.
  • Tant’s strength we know is fundraising and she has laid out a strong proposal of how to raise money for Democrats in the 2014 cycle. One issue here is she doesn’t directly address legislative race fundraising but perhaps that planning needs to come from the individual House and Senate Victory committees. Perhaps Tant will want to take the excellent suggestion of outgoing Chairman Rod Smith that the legislative committees should be folded back into the party to solve this problem.
  • Tant says the right thing about communication with activists and DECs but given who many of her highest profile supporters have run a party absent of communication and based entirely off the opinions, and preferences of Tallahassee insiders, I question the sincerity of this. Many of these insiders are out of touch with developments around the state and those who are aware of what is happening at the grassroots level have used their positions in the party to either enrich themselves or simply consolidate power by exploiting the perceived knowledge of the state they posses. In fairness, Tant has not been part of this negatively run party in the past and she very well may want to do the right thing. However, achieving her goals clearly laid out in this memo may require the jettisoning of the excess baggage she carries.
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