Florida Democrats moving forward? Comparing the LEAD and STEP proposed reforms.

Statewide Demos Sample FinalEarlier today, the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida release a party rebuilding strategy, called STEP, regarding their view of the future direction of the Florida Democratic Party. This was a response to the LEAD report released by the Florida Democratic Party earlier in the year, which was a response to the disastrous campaign of 2014. When I saw that it was the Democratic Progressive Caucus presenting this new vision of change, I was expecting that most of it would advocate moving the party ideologically to the left. However, ideology was rarely talked about, and the document was a well thought out response to the LEAD report. Still, I would not call the STEP report an alternative to the LEAD report, but instead an expansion (which will be talked about later).

Before getting into today’s recommendations, let’s first look at the LEAD report. When the report was released, it was criticized by many, mostly because it was too broad. Not only do I agree with this assessment, but the report also seemed to give the impression that the Florida Democratic Party has actually been doing well. Using their own words, 2014 was a disappointment after a “strong” 2012 election. Was it really a “strong” result? Were there any surprise seats that the Florida Democrats won in the Florida House and Senate (besides Clelland’s victory, that this blog predicted would happen)? The LEAD document continues to praise itself by saying that Democrats had good candidates, that their statewide field plans were “strong and effective”, and the legislative efforts were “aggressive”. Again, were they really?
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Florida Democratic Party using diversionary tactics to take pressure off of Tant?

Over the last week, I have talked about the recent losses of the Florida Democratic Party, as well as the changes that need to take place in order for the party to move forward. However, it seems that Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant and her allies want you to forget all about those losses nine days ago and focus on the leadership race for the Democratic House Caucus between Dwayne Taylor and Mark Pafford. But is this really a true concern, or a diversion to keep the attention off of the failures of the Florida Democratic Party?

First, let’s look at this in a practical sense. To do that, we have to turn our attention to an article written about the subject yesterday from the News Service of Florida. In the article, they quote Representative Evan Jenne saying that Pafford has “more than he had the last time he ran”. So, if he had more votes than before, and he won quite easily before, why would there be any worry that Pafford would lose this time? Getting involved with the race doesn’t seem practical.
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Allison Tant moving, slightly, in the right direction.

FDP_130109A few days ago, Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant finally admitted that her team lost. After an election night filled with congratulatory tweets, Tant said in a radio interview with WFSU in Tallahassee that she takes responsibility.

“Do I take responsibility for this outcome? Of course”, Tant told WFSU.

However, it is the rest of her interview that deserves a second look. Here is the rest of Tant’s statement, according the WFSU:

“Well, obviously we got beat. We got beat across the nation. We got beat in Florida. But, I’m proud of the race we ran. I mean, do I want a different outcome. Yes! Do I take a responsibility for this outcome? Of course! I mean, we built a really good machine. We built a really good race car and we’re going to keep it going. We’re going to deep dive into what happened and who didn’t show up to vote and take corrective measures.”
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Time for Allison Tant to show she is a leader.

tantSo, let’s discuss that elephant in the room.

Last night, Florida Democrats suffered a major blow throughout the state. Along with the defeat of Republican-turn-Independent-turn-Democrat Charlie Crist losing the governor’s race (something that I warned people about a number of times), Democrats lost all of the constitutional positions, as well as five state house seats. The State Senate remained unchanged, basically, because there were no competitive races. Overall, it was a disastrous night for Team Blue.

Yes, there were some bright spots last night. Democrats defeated Steve Southerland. After years or time, money, and resources that the state Democratic Party used in the congressional district, at the expense of other campaigns, they finally won the seat. I mean, it seemed as if the Florida Democratic Party was only concentrating on the 2nd CD for the last two cycles. But even with Gwen Graham’s win, the losses were more shocking than the one pickup. While Karen Castor Dentel’s loss was a disappointment, Joe Saunders’ loss in House District 49 was a major blow. Saunders’ loss (which will be discussed later this week) really exemplifies the scale of the Democratic defeat.
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Is odd Tweet by FDP trying to justify Allison Tant?

So, in the last few minutes on Twitter, the Florida Democratic Party has put out a tweet which has shown the “accomplishments of Allison Tant”. And if you are wondering if that is a little odd….yes, it is odd. Rarely, if ever, do non-parliamentary political parties boost their leader’s accomplishments, especially if they are so insignificant as the facts which are shown in the FDP’s latest tweet. Here is the picture they added to the tweet:

BREvyhFCEAAZfRZIn this tweet, they talk about extremely insignificant things regarding the Florida Democratic Party. They talk about tweets, Facebook likes, the JJ dinner and so on. Honestly, these thing don’t add up to much, considering candidate recruitment and overall fundraising has been dismal for the party.

But who is this tweet intended to target?

Usually, political parties use their Facebook and Twitter accounts to either promote their candidates or policies, or to question the candidates and policies of the opposition. Why do they do that? Well, usually to get the voters to support of oppose a political party. These social media accounts are usually used to win elections.
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Is Florida Democratic Party preventing Rep. Rouson from doing his job?

Is Christian Ulvert trying to be "Kingmaker" for Florida Democrats?

Is Christian Ulvert trying to be “Kingmaker” for Florida Democrats?

Before I get into the meat and bones of this article, I am going to do something that people in politics never do. I will admit that I was wrong. A few months ago, I questioned whether Darryl Rouson was the right future leader for the House Democratic Caucus. When I made that argument, I had legitimate reasons to come to this conclusion. Being a former Republican, as well as having some questionable comments in the past, I worried that Rouson might try to convince House Democrats to lean more toward the AIF, Florida Chamber and other right-wing-friendly organizations. But after this legislative session, I must say that I was wrong. Rep. Rouson was a reliable Democrat, and had a better voting record than some who I assumed would have a flawless record.

With that being said, let’s move over to the job that Rep. Rouson has been given, which is leading House Democrats to victory in the 2014 election. So far, there hasn’t been any real movement on this front. No serious Democrats have been recruited for key seats, and the Republicans have already recruited formidable candidates against Carl Zimmerman, Mike Clelland and Mark Danish. Even with this being the case, is Rep. Rouson’s hands tied in the matter?
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Has Allison Tant’s campaign manager for FDP Chair “fudged” her educational credentials?

beth

During the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Delaware, people questioned the education credentials of Christine O’Donnell. In her Linkedin page, O’Donnell claimed that she attended the University of Oxford. Upon further review, it was found out that O’Donnell did not attend Oxford, and instead attended a class by something called the Phoenix Institute, which rented space at Oxford.

Little did we know that in Florida we have a similar case. That would be the case of Beth Matuga. Matuga worked, according to her LinkedIn page, as Allison Tant’s campaign manager for the Florida Democratic Party chair’s race against Alan Clendenin.

Going back to LinkedIn, Matuga states that she received her education at Yale University. There is only one problem…she didn’t.
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Democrats Siding With Sugar Again!

The Sugar Industry is getting its way again with the Florida Legislature and the losers will be Florida’s taxpayers, tourism related businesses and ecosystem. The bill which is needed to codify the settlement between the state and feds regarding Everglades cleanup requires Sugar to pay far less than what can be considered a fair share towards the effort. The legislation received unanimous bi-partisan support on Thursday in a House Committee. The legislation represents a tax hike for Florida citizens while sugar gets off relatively easy.

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Future of this Site

Many have noticed that we haven’t posted anything new in a week. It hasn’t been a slow news week at all with the election of Darryl Rouson as House Minority Leader designee, and countless legislative issues, as well continuing fallout from the Greer non-trial. Instead our writers have been focused on new projects while committing to keep TPH relevant.

Our plan is to keep The Political Hurricane going but with more sporadic posts which are  long form analytical in nature. In the meantime, our writers are focused on different projects. Kartik Krishnaiyer will continue his daily look at Florida Politics at a new progressive site which debuts today, The Florida Squeeze. Dave Trotter will be analyzing international elections and voting trends at How The World Votes. In recent days Dave has focused on the upcoming Italian Elections.

We thank you for your continued support of TPH and hope to see you again here soon. In the meantime, check out The Florida Squeeze, and How the World Votes.

House Leadership Election in Final Stages: Some Closing Thoughts

Steve Bousquet reported in the Tampa Bay Times that we will finally have a House Leadership election on February 20th, more than a month after Darryl Rouson (D-St Petersburg) tried to call for a vote. While both Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) and Rouson claim to have the commitments of be elected leader designee, our sources indicate that Rouson has signed pledges from at least  half the caucus and with verbal commitments (which by definition are soft) he has the support of over 2/3 of the 44 member caucus. Jones has the tacit support of current leader Perry Thurston (D-Plantation) and of several party staffers and consultants. It is worth noting once again that for a party that prides itself on being diverse, the Democrats have not had a female House leader in well over a decade.

Rouson is a former Republican whose views on some social issues have “evolved” with time and who has received lots of money from school “choice” advocates. Jones is clearly more liberal, but unlike Rouson who raised money for numerous Democrats running for State House in 2012, even those not targeted by House Victory, Jones own record in helping other Democrats is spotty at best.  During the 2012 cycle Rosuon even personally contributed to the recruitment of  many Democratic candidates, while Jones may have played a role in the underwhelming Democratic performance. This was a cycle where on a newly drawn map, the party captured only 35% of House seats while President Obama carried the state with 50% of the vote and Senator Nelson was reelected with 55% of the vote.

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