I have seen many contests for Florida Democratic Party chair come and go. From the days of Simon Ferro to the current chair Allison Tant, the way in which the Florida Democratic Party chair was selected was a secretive process, where backroom deals determined who would win. Even so, not much has changed from the days when the Florida Democrats were located in the historic Towle House. Places have change, and faces have changed, but the process is still the same.
Even with this process still in place, Lisa King has provided a new approach toward campaigning for the position. While I am sure she perfectly knows that it is the backroom deals that will determine whether her candidacy sinks or swims, her candidacy has provided the most public-friendly campaign that we have ever seen for the chair position. On nearly a daily basis, King is interacting with Facebook members and openly discussing the issues that face the Florida Democratic Party. Other candidates have attended public forums, such as the one held by the Orange County DEC last week, but King has been extremely proactive in keeping people engaged, answering questions, and providing access to a candidate at a level unseen in Florida Democratic politics. It is quite a refreshing change from prolonged status quo. Continue reading
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.
A 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.”
So, 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.
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:
In 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.
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?
Sen. Rich’s JJ snub show not only favoritism, but incompetency.
Back in 2007, when I worked for John Edwards in Reno, I attended the J-J Dinner which was held the day after the presidential debate between the major candidates. At that dinner, all of the Democratic candidate for president were able to speak at the event. Yes, I met the eventual president Barack Obama. I also met the future vice-president Joe Biden. I also met some of the other candidates, including former Alaska governor Mike Gravel. Basically, the entire Democratic field, even candidates who were not invited to attend the debate on the previous evening, were allowed to speak at the Nevada Democratic Party’s J-J Dinner.
In Florida, it seems we have a different case. The only serious candidate to announce that they are running for any constitutional office position, former Senator Nan Rich, had been told by the Florida Democratic Party that she would not be given a speaking spot at the upcoming J-J Dinner. Mind you, Senator Rich isn’t just someone who threw her name into the mix, with it eventually being removed once the filing deadline rolls around. She is a recent Senate minority leader and has already raised more than what most people expected this far into her campaign. So, Senator Rich’s exclusion from the upcoming J-J Dinner is baffling.
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.
There is an organization that is involved with politics that many have really ever heard of called Project New Florida. Some of you might have heard about organizations called Project New America and Project New West, which say they help progressive candidates. But when looking at what they have done at the national level, one must wonder if they are really helping. If someone was to do a Google search on “Project New Florida”, they would generally only find polling results. Even on their national website they have to “clarify” that they are not a polling firm, stating “We’re not a traditional polling firm, though we do employ them as part of our methodology.” When there needs to be clarification, that isn’t a good sign.
Project New Florida is run by former Florida House member Loranne Ausley. We have been made aware from a number of different sources in Tallahassee that Ms. Ausley is actively campaigning for Allison Tant for Florida Democratic Party chair. Yet we are unaware of any endorsements or public statements by Ms. Ausley in which she claims support for Tant.
Still, Ms. Ausley wasn’t one of the founders of this organization. She didn’t join Project New Florida until May of 2011. In fact, the organization wasn’t even originally called Project New Florida. Instead, it was called “The Florida Watch”.
Scott Arceneaux, Tant’s campaign manager, at a Leon County DEC meeting.
Over the past few years, I have been quite critical of the Florida Democratic Party. Most of this criticism has come from the horrible performance of the FDP in recruiting quality candidates when it comes to our legislative seats. Also, the fact that we continue to only win our minimum amount of seat continues to be something that should be of concern to many Democrats around the state. During the term of Scott Arceneaux as Executive Direct of the party, no real movement has been made to make the Democratic Party better.
Over the past couple of days, I have been informed by a number of highly reliable sources that Scott Arceneaux is working as Allison Tant’s campaign manager in her race for the Florida Democratic Party Chair position. Because of this, Scott Arceneaux should resign immediately as the Executive Director of the FDP.
Why should he resign you might ask? Well there are a number of reasons. First, not only is Mr. Arceneaux taking sides in a race where FDP staffers should be neutral, other people that are highly involved with the failures of the party, such at the consultant for House Victory in 2012 Christian Ulvert, are actively campaigning for Tant. This is something that we discovered just days after Mrs. Tant’s announcement that she was running as FDP Chair. Therefore, if you are one of those people who feel that things need to be “shaken up”, Mrs. Tant seems to be heavily supported by the current staff of the FDP. What does that mean? Yep, business as usual.