Guest Column – Florida Democratic Party Chair’s Race: We’ve Already Won

Guest column by Kevin Thurman

In 2010 when Andrew Gillum was the last to concede the chairmanship to Rod Smith we elected another party chair that took that position without explaining to Democrats how they plan to change our electoral fortunes. This record stretches back decades.

In fact, in 2002 after Bob Poe left his position as Party Chair due to major electoral losses . Scott Maddox didn’t even have an opponent . We’ve been electing party chairs without opposition or real plans for a long time. So it’s great we are trying something different — with the race between Allison Tant and Alan Clendenin. We are using a chair race to determine the direction of the Party. States like Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina, and dozens of others had these kinds of fights years ago. We never did.

Why? Florida Democrats face an uphill battle to raise as much money as Republicans for state races we have taken a typical and understandable route of avoid primary fights or internal party elections. We’d like focus on winning the next election, right? It’s a reasonable strategy, but over the last 14 years it just hasn’t worked.

 Avoiding internal party fights can have it’s advantages, but having them can also help a lot. This Florida Democratic Party Chair’s race is helping us.

This time Florida Democrats may actually get to cast a vote for who their chair will be. Even after some good victories we are taking a serious look at how we can do better. And now, for the first time ever, we have two plans for Democrats to review and throw their support behind.
If you need an example just look at each of their plans (Alan’s plan  & Allison’s plan). Then you’ll see that we are getting some improvements no matter who becomes the next party chair:
– More focus on local parties
– More extensive recruitment
– A new fundraising committee to expand the donor base
– Better engagement with activists

If all these four things happen we will be in a much better place as a Party. And it’s something that Florida Democrats can hold their Party Chair accountable for no matter who wins later this month.

However, there are some very specific differences. Clendenin has committed to a 67 county strategy and recruitment, Tant hasn’t. Clendenin has committed to focuing efforts on GOTV, Tant hasn’t. Clendenin is running a much more grassroots oriented campaign. Tant has much more experience raising large sums than Clendenin. Tant is more focused on the Governor’s race than Clendenin. I could go on and on — but there are good arguments for us to have as a party and we will be better for it.

This race reminds me a lot of the 2004 DNC Chairs race I worked on. In the end Howard Dean results showed he did did well as DNC chair, but I understood why many supported Martin Frost at the time.

That is why I am glad this race is happening. I endorse the election and I think both will already be better party leaders after the race is finished than they would before it. I really don’t care who wins the majority of votes.

This race does present is one danger: personal attacks. While Clendenin and Tant haven’t been incredibly negative — many of their supporters have been. I am disappointed with some Clendenin supporters attacks on party staff, consultants, and fundraisers. I am also disappointed with some Tant supporters attacks on activists, volunteer, and leaders. Let’s keep those to a minimum  and instead argue on how to build a strong party.


27 thoughts on “Guest Column – Florida Democratic Party Chair’s Race: We’ve Already Won

  1. Great commentary Kevin. Well said and wonderful perspective. You are a leader in our party and your experience and perspective helps us through this and understand why this race is beneficial.

    Many of the postings from this site have affected the discourse. Kartik Krishnaiyer is well spoken, respected and his points though at times reflecting a tinge of bitterness are well taken from someone well experienced and knowledgeable about our party’s recent woes.

    Dave Trotter on the other side of the coin comes across as petty, not knowledgeable, and was long registered as a Republican who admitted to voting against Obama. Trotter is smart but to eager to use this site to settle scores and his writing rather than define the race and what’s at stake has simply made things worse. He has done more to hurt his candidate than anyone out there.

    FYI, I’ve checked the registration of both writers here. I know Krishnaiyer fairly well but still needed to check. Trotter I know also and remember him as a troublemaker in the YDs.

    Trotter has switched parties more than once and missed elections repeatedly. Not surprisingly Krishnaiyer has always been registered as a D and has voted in all elections listed but one, shameful he missed that one I suppose, considering he was working for one of the candidates. Still a pretty good track record, and his involvement in politics has been long standing.

    Kevin for those who don’t know has worked with our party in multiple states and is the type of leader whose ideas and thoughts are always welcome. Krishnaiyer also always welcome. Trotter interesting but too negative and ignorant to be taken seriously. Trotter flamed out in Osceola and then used this blog to attack and same thing now in Orange.

    This was an excellent website until that ridiculous series on what is wrong with the party. The push for Tant has nothing to do with the inertia in the party. That is the baggage of Rod Smith, Bob Poe and others. Tant isn’t the pitchfork revolutionary that Clendenin is, and that may not satisfy some including the two bloggers here, but as Kevin correctly articulates she’s already moved far enough away from the established positions which have as KK and DT do accurately point out has failed to be a change candidate herself.

  2. Fla Dem, thank you for all your praise. However, the fact that you say I am right then do exactly what I suggested that people stop doing (personally attacking each other) is beyond ridiculous. It saddens me that the point of this piece is completely missed by you and hope not by others as well.

    This website has been talking about what wrong with the party long before Trotter wrote any series. While you praise the site you take swipes at people who run this site, which as bad as anyone who does the same. Your accusations of bitterness and lack of commitment to clients and all kinds of attacks are all over this comment. It’s what has become of many people supporting Tant — and I feel bad for both candidates for all this ridiculous childish score settling that people — including you right now — seem to be dedicated to doing.

    We may have already won, but it will be easy for us to lose if the attacks are personal instead of focused on debating how to win. It divides the party — but most importantly distracts us from the task at hand: winning.

    So let me say this very simply: Thanks for the compliments, but stop hurting the party. I will say the same to people who support Clendenin or Mickey Mouse.

  3. Name one election I have missed. In addition, since you seem to know a lot more details about me than the average person reading this blog, one must ask if your post isn’t also just a personal attack on me.

    And, Kevin, thank you for this information. During the entire discussion regarding the FDP Chair race, I have not personally attacked one single person. I do not see any reason to attack any single person. On the other hand, I have questioned a number of organizations and the association those organizations have with one of the current candidates running in this race. In doing so, I have only looked at the data available and come to my conclusions regarding conflict of interests. I have not made anything up and all of what I have written is verifiable. Unlike the personal attack on me which states that I haven’t voted in a number of elections, which is not true whatsoever and also verifiable that I actually have, I try to lay out the argument using logic and facts. It is up to the reader to determine if those facts make sense or not.

  4. it is a shame because you are a good progressive and have made great points on this blog before but without a doubt your series moved the race towards Tant. You hurt the cause of reform in the party. I know that wasn’t your intent but had you just kept going with highlighting Tant’s GOP donations and the rest of the points about party performance. You got way off track. It is a shame but you did personalize this race by attacking all the groups associated with Tant.

    You need to get back to making your points on reforming the party, rationalizing operations and setting up a real field network. Make predictions again. You were the best in the state this past cycle.

  5. Honestly, I am concentrating more on my research on the geographical voting patterns of the far-left in German than I am Florida politics.

  6. Trotter’s commentaries have tended to be rambling and self serving. Still his perspective will be missed if he moves to German politics because he’s usually right just not good at explaining abd articulating why he’s right. I hope KK keeps up his good work here.

  7. Actually, it isn’t about German politics. I am just examining the voting patterns around the world. So, I will be doing the same for the US and putting some of the ones I did regarding Florida on the blog as well.

  8. Oh Dave you sound so defeated. Why don’t you sell the blog to Kartik & these guests all of whom have been good and turn your focus to Europe. You will be happier not dealing with some of these morons here.

  9. I think this blog can take some credit for Tant actually offering a plan. But if she keeps Arcenuax and co. in place we lose.

    As for Trotter moving to German politics he’s got some awesome postings here but that series didn’t resonate and actually hurt our cause.

    I understand living in Illinois has made it tough to keep on top of the pulse here. Keep writing about politics you are good at it. As for FDP politics maybe you need to be here to understand how f’d up it is!!!!

  10. This article conceding defeat and complimenting Tant continued the pattern here. Trotter series on money in the FDP WAS PLAIN DUMB AND krishnaiyer instead of focusing on what mattered as he did during the campaign itself kept blogging about contributions to obscure Republcans, WHO CARES,! Trotter go back to illiniois politics and krishnaiyer go back to soccer or move to england you wanna be anglophile. You cost us any chance for real change. This blog has run its course.

  11. Conceding defeat from someone that never endorsed anyone? Unlike all the fake posts on here I am a real person with a different opinion from Dave, Kartik, Beth, Susanah, and many many more people.

    There is a lot of time left and I think either candidate can win — but all the fake blogs, fake blog comments, and fake twitter accounts tells me two things: Tant supporters are not focusing on actually winning & Tant supporters actually think fake comments have an impact.

  12. Krishnaiyer has been over the top on constantly saying our party has a worse record than every other state and seemingly is obsessed with the failures of party consultants. I think he’s right to a certain extent but he links everything back to this notion instead of actually offering solutions for the future, but he’s a good writer, a professional communications person and my conversations with him have always been intelligent and enlightening. Tis having been said like any communications flak/hack he believes he must repeat something 50,000 times. That’s how they train them in journalism school and in the private sector you know. sometimes he might as well just cut and paste his posts. Still some good stuff there but it gets old after a while.

    I know trotter through campaigns, this blog and Facebook and he is always looking for attention and wallowing in self pity. He has some good ideas and seems genuinely progressive but knowing what I know of what happened this cycle in central fla and his self destruction on two campaigns plus this mad attack on the Randolph’s who I’m not fans of but still publishing e tax returns of FWA was petty and had ZERO to do with the chairs race really pissed me off. I haven’t come to this blog for days because of it even though I previously read it all the time.

    I saw Dave consistently with two campaigns here in central Florida and then he disappeared due to personal disputes with both candidates. He started using the blog to bad mouth both candidates. Then something happened with the Randolph’s who he foolishly supported before and then he started attacking them also. See a pattern?

    Let’s hope Alan Clendenin isn’t next in the firing line for Dave Trotter.

  13. It’s a conflict of interest when a lobbyist or campaign consultant is also a political party officer.

    Grassroots organizers are perfect as political party officers.

    Clendenin should introduce strong conflict of interest prohibitions which apply to all state and county political party organizations. No lobbyist or campaign consultant should be in any position higher than precinct captain.

  14. Actually, you do not know why I left either of those campaigns. In fact, only four people know the reason why I left the Game campaign. But, as it has now become an issue, let me directly cut and paste what I sent in my resignation letter to Mrs. Game and maybe you know why I left:

    “I must leave this campaign regards our conversation on July 27th, 2012 in which you stated that you have strongly considered becoming a Republican. As a strong Democrat, I do not think it is in my best interest to work for someone that is considering switching parties. If you were to win this race, I do not have the confidence that you would stay a Democrat, especially in a Republican-leaning performing District. I understand the frustration with the lack of support that the Democratic Party and progressive-leaning groups are giving your campaign. But even with that, it is no reason to consider switching parties unless the only goal is to be an elected official and nothing more.”

    So, if you want to fault me for leaving a campaign for that reason, go ahead, I’m guilty as charged.

  15. Goodness Trotter. I asked Eileen about that since you blabbed all over town and she said she was joking. It’s incredible how freaking sensitive you are about any little criticism. You know it all. It’s a shame because you have some real talent but always self destruct. No one is better with numbers. Stick to that. Make it your niche.

  16. I see where you come from. I mean, I shouldn’t mention why I left the other campaign 😉 Also, common sense would dictate that Mrs. Game would say that. And, actually, I didn’t say anything to anyone regarding Mrs. Game switch, besides to four people. I found out the other candidate that I was working for, who was one of the four that I told, was telling other people what I said. Of course, it was in her best interest for Mrs. Game to lose because she was interested in running for House District 42 in 2014.

  17. Kevin,

    Excellent piece. Your premise is well founded and I agreed with every word. Great job!


    I do not understand you. Obviously you articulate some very strong opinions and are right a great deal. But your writing style isn’t conducive to being concise or effective.

    You are generally right in your sense about the FDP, a wayward party with little to show for itself in the way of results over the years. But the problems is anytime you face the slightest bit of criticism you get angry, and overly aggressive towards those who criticize you. Like the poster said above your Facebook posting reflect a sense of self pity and superiority to the rest of us in Florida. This has done nothing but turn those of us who really like what you have to say against you. Criticism goes with the territory. If you are going to dish out the way Kartik Krishnaiyer and you do, you’d better be ready to take as well.

    We critique this site and its postings; your writings because what this site says is important. If it did not matter and did not have an impact we would not bother. We would ignore it like the hundreds of other blogs out there that have nothing to say.

    Keep up the good work here but please grow a thicker skin and let this stuff role off your back. Take criticism constructively and use it to better yourself and this excellent website.


  18. Jay-Kartik knows how to multi-task, thus his ability to write for this blog and have a professional communications career. If you think soccer is only for the English you lack credibility on any subject. You probably think Nascar is the official sport of our country?

    Don’t read if you think it has run it’s course.

  19. I think KK is fine though he seems to have stopped blogging entirely about the race which is cowardly quite frankly. It is Trotter I am worried about from his postings and his rambling articles that make no sense. He has a lot of good ideas but gets too angry and defensive when he is critiqued. If you cannot take criticism do not put yourself out there.

    Hey Kartik, Tant has about a dozen more GOP contributions you could write about. Your stopping shows they’ve intimidated you into not writing about it anymore, doesn’t it?

  20. The party sucks 17. When DWS is pushing Crist who has voted against our interests for 12 years, tied to Anthony that was arrested today, Harry Sargeant and Scott Rothstein…that should tell you something. We have more Ds in this state but it is not reflected in our numbers in Tallahassee because Kevin is correct, there has been no real plan. It is done on purpose for people (electeds) and others to keep power instead of standing up for a good political agenda, while preparing a new bench. The reality is that the Florida Democratic Party is about as corrupt, inept and criminal as the Republican. My hope is DWS is setting Crist up..otherwise we are all in trouble.

  21. Pingback: FDP Chair Race Update « The Political Hurricane – Florida Political Blog.

  22. Ok, I get it!!! I now understand why the FDP has in the past and will continue to lose election after election!! If you don’t get it….well just re-read all these comments again!!

    I’m sure most of you have never heard of Will Rogers, the great American humorist of the Depression era…….as I recall his comment was…..”I don’t belong to any organized party…..I’m a Democrat!” He’s still on the money some 75+ years later!!

  23. A completely unorganized party that continues to win at the federal level regularly, and somehow never can win at the florida state level expect once? Sounds like we need a bit more dis-organization like the DNC in 2004 CO, OH, & NC as well — all those races led to massive … victories the next cycle.

    The only key is the fights stop after the election is over — we have bigger things to worry about.

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