Rod Smith & the FDP…and next steps for FL Progressives

Since this is my first posting on Florida Progressive Coalition Blog, I thought I would start with a brief introduction. I’ve been working professionally in progressive politics for nearly a decade.  With the change in party leadership coming, the future direction for Florida Democrats, and specifically Florida Progressives, is in question. Because of my unique background and experience, I wrote two initial postings: a possible blueprint for the FDP moving forward and OFA being the elephant in the room.  For the record, I was recently the campaign manager for Heather Beaven in Florida’s 7th congressional, have worked for a state Democratic Party, founded and ran a federal statewide PAC, worked for a progressive national consulting firm (ISSI) consulting progressive organizations around Florida, and worked on campaigns in VA, MO, GA, and FL while also serving a few months on Capitol Hill in between…I hope to continue to move the conversation forward and fight for Florida progressive values.

Here is my posting “Rod Smith and the FDP…” which was cross-posted today at DailyKos:

Andrew Gillum’s short-lived run for party chair came to a crashing end, sealing the deal for Rod Smith to take over the FDP.  While the “reason” behind his run had substance (generational change) his exit shows simply more of the same.

And despite everyone, from Senator Nelson to departing Gillum, claiming that Rod Smith “is committed to delivering the reforms that the Florida Democratic Party needs to win elections,” where’s Rod Smith’s plan?! Where’s his vision? Why don’t we know it?  Even I started a plan, it’s not too much to ask for.

This is just the start of the problems with the transition of power for Democrats in Florida – there is no real transition.  This entire process has been done quietly and seemingly with pressure from the top (all the way to Sen Nelson personally making calls for Smith) to make this happen. While our party suffered the worst losses of our times, these same party leaders are the ones pulling the strings.

My point is we need leadership. Florida Democrats cry for it right now.

I like Rod Smith. I met him along the campaign trail and he was always very nice.  You can tell he definitely has his strengths and should be involved in party leadership. However, Rod Smith has run for office before.  He knows what it takes, what’s needed and honestly the current state of affairs for Florida Democrats.  All I’m asking is if he is so committed to reforming our party to win elections – how does he plan to do it? Why aren’t Democrats rallying around a plan, a vision, something bigger than one person or one office to start to bring our party back together. We just need some real leadership.

The Reid Report wrote today that Gillum dropping out and Smith seemingly coasting to Chair left Democrats with three choices:

  1. Register as an Independent (bad idea…)
  2. Ignore the FDP and focus on OFA (bad idea…)
  3. Double Down with local DECs (should be doing already)

I think option 1 is a bad idea.  There is no reason for Democrats to abandon the party and think that they should have any voice in shaping its future.  The reason Independents grew in FL so much after 08 is because moderate Republicans did that – and the hard-right who stayed took control.  If progressives leave the party, it will guarantee the party shifting more to the center.  It will also weaken efforts around the state, make micro-targeting more difficult, cost more resources, and set us back at a time we need to buckle down and push forward.

Option 2 is a bad idea, if you do it alone. I wrote about my thoughts on OFA and its role in 2012 here, and believe the Reid Report is right that OFA should/likely will lead on the presidential campaign. If folks and Dems really care most about Obama and his re-election, that is what OFA was formed for.  However, to shape the Florida Democrat and our party in-state we need more than OFA, more than Obama, and more than their unproven system.

Option 3 is very true to change this system. First of all, you should not have to be a DEC chair to become Chair of the FDP. Being a state committee member should be enough and broaden the pool of applicants and open the process.  The only way to change these policies and bylaws is through the local DECs and getting involved.  Plus, as futile as it is, it is the one channel to state party for the local level, and progressives should not close that off.

But there are more choices ahead for Democrats.  In fact, there are more choices progressives should seriously be taking to make sure the fight for Florida is one around our values.  If the party won’t organize and reform, there will be other options.

In fact, today I’ll put forward a possible option 4 for Florida progressives: let’s Take Back Florida and hold the FL GOP accountable. It’s a growing liberal grassroots effort, so bookmark this page and when the Republicans are sworn in, progressives’ work truly begins.

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3 thoughts on “Rod Smith & the FDP…and next steps for FL Progressives

  1. The most important work the FDP has to do right now is stay on top of the redistricting process. Former state Senator Rod Smith is the best qualified to do this. If you think you have any other job to do right now you’re crazy.

  2. Actually I challenge you on that. The state party has a LOT of work to do and so do Democrats. As important as Redistricting is, they have an entire operation working as well and honestly, the best job for Rod Smith would be a Special Counsel to the Party working full-time on redistricting efforts with a budget and staff if needed, but not running the entire party. Based on your response, our party is going nowhere in the next cycle, which means this electoral beating isn’t the low for Florida Democrats. I refuse to accept that.

    Plus, just fundamentally, your comment sounds defeatist. We can win on a message and a platform, and no matter how the districts end up being drawn Democrats have work to do and a message to fight for all over this state. There’s much more needed from our Chair right now.

  3. I am physically sick to my stomach that Rick Scott is our governor. A felon. Guilty of theft of hundreds of millions of dollars, an enemy of a free judicial system, the furthest right wing candidate to ever win in this state. Why? Because we can’t get democrats out to vote. Are they lazy? On a local level, why can’t democrats get out to vote? The republicans love to go and vote for their right wing We must protect this state against the predacious redistricting plans of the Republicans. What can we do?