Broward County DEC Facing Critical Elections Tuesday

Amidst all the attention on major primaries throughout the state, below the radar an effort to challenge and unseat some leaders of the Broward Democratic Party will also be decided tomorrow. The Sun Sentinel reported Sunday on the effort to defeat Chairman Mitch Caeser within his own precinct, and previously Buddy Nevins has profiled what is at stake locally. Additionally, the state party chair race could be profoundly affected by the results in Broward as Rep. Scott Randloph, Mark Alan Siegel and other potential state party chair candidates will be concerned about the outcomes tomorrow. The December DEC elections will be effected by whatever shifts in power are perceived to have taken place on Primary Day.

The decentralized nature of both the statewide party structure and local DECs like Broward’s have served the party badly over the past two decades. Florida’s Democrats have become too comfortable with the laissez-faire approach where accountability for poor electoral performance is non-existent. Many local officials in Democratic Executive Committees are interested in status and perception of some prestige within the party. While some DECs do a decent job and put in the effort to recruit workers and train them appropriately, they do so in a vacuum with little or no guidance or interaction from the state party. I served as the Field Coordinator for the DEC Chairs Association over ten years ago and while some DECs like Doug Head’s Orange County participated  effectively and actively, most did not. Why? I do not think most of the DECs had any real interest in organizing at a high level and coordinating activities with neighboring counties where districts where Democrats were running may overlap.

In fairness, Broward’s DEC is far from the least functional in the state. Many of the DEC’s in the I-4 corridor area and medium sized counties on both coasts are suffering from a lack of leadership and inability to properly organize. Relative to what goes in other DEC’s across the state, Broward’s is pretty good. Relative to how effective it could be, the Broward Democratic Executive Committee is not firing on all cylinders.

DEC’s need to work on recruiting local candidates, training precinct captains to turn out the vote, training potential campaign workers, and also to be the central hub for all Democratic related matters in a county. The continued use of DECs to promote personal political agendas or political consulting practices have led even the strongest Democratic counties in the state to be under-performers in critical elections. Broward must be considered in the category of large counties where the DEC has become excessively political, and where the effectiveness of the party itself has been undermined by personal grudges on both sides. The mere fact so many precinct committeeman and committeewoman slots are being seriously contested on August Primary ballot is proof of this.

A good percentage of precincts in the county find contested elections tomorrow. I am fortune as an incoming Committeeman that I have been left unopposed for DEC election but both factions of the local DEC have gone all out this election to target certain individuals who lead the various factions. (As a point of reference about the DEC, I have been on several boards of Democratic clubs since the late 1990s and yet have never until this year attempted to be a seated member of the DEC. I think most activists don’t bother to run for the DEC unless they have some specific motivation to do so- this motivation is typically unrelated to party organizing)  The stakes are high if the DEC is to actually be proactive and accomplish what the critics of the party feel is not being done. Or the elections themselves could be meaningless if the DEC is not going to be used as a positive instrument for recruiting, training and electing Democrats.

8 thoughts on “Broward County DEC Facing Critical Elections Tuesday”

  1. I wrtoe this on Buddy Nevins’ site but feel it is worth repeating here. I have always felt the reason the internal DEC fighting is so bitter is because the stakes are so small. The DEC (and BREC) have zero to do with generating turnout in the real world. The Obama campaign generated its own volunteers locally here in 2008 (as did the McCain campaign). The DEC and BREC are just meaningless and pathetic social clubs of the frail and self-aggrandizing, which exist to suck money from their own party candidates for meaningless journal ads, luncheon tickets, and other events in which they give each other made-up awards. You could abolish the DEC and BREC and nobody would ever notice. And it would make zero difference to Obama or Romney in results in November.

  2. This thing is way out of hand. Money and energy being wasted on the internal politics of an organization that makes ZERO difference on the electoral politics of major races. ZERO. This is spinning wheels.

  3. Concerned Democrat

    Really this is a very critical situation. The failure of the DEC to rally local families, focus on educational and environmental issues important to voters, the inability to break the old structure, and utter lack of modern tactics is a legacy of the current Broward DEC.

    Change can bring a re-energized base but it must be in the spirit of looking to a new decade of work, not back at what could have been. Right now all the DEC does is send out grammatically incorrect and often incoherent emails, which Mitch Caeser uses for his own purpose, not for the good of the party.

  4. Most DEC’s are dysfunctional as you note. To presume Mitch Caeser and the Broward DEC are somehow worse and cost the Democrats statewide races is ludicrous.

    Cynthia Bush and her allies are living in a fantasy world if they think they winning will change things in any manner. In fact they are being manipulated by Barbara Miller and other pols who could care less about the party but simply want a piece of party business and control.

    This whole sorry episode has cost the party volunteers, money and time. It is a detrimental effort.

  5. Lewis in Lauderdale

    The DEC is useless whomever is at the top. First of all no Dem east of 95 cares about or has interest in the DEC as it is seen as a west side group.

    The DEC caters to sheep like condo voters and other blocks, who simply vote for those with a D next to their name without regard for whom the better person is in the race (all of which are fading away).

    Even the sheep are not good sheep anymore, there have been many instances in the last few cycyles that the palm cards are not followed anymore i.e. a non-jewish person running against a jewish person in the condos is not a lock just because they are the right palm card. Heck there are 1000 different palm cards out there now.

    Organized groups like the DEC are also dying because they have no patronage offerings for the general membership. Years ago if were a good member you could probably land a job at the clerks office, pd’s office or a bailiff, not today.

    There is no team at the DEC anymore either, every Precinct Leader has a palm card and does what they want not those who the party wants. Not to mention the fact that many times getting on these cards can be purchased.

    I actually like Mitch, he has had many successes and has done great things in his time as Chair. On that note, I think he should just resign, smile while hading the keys to the Progressives and tell them “be careful what you wish for”. The DEC is on life support it would be more fun to watch the ship sink with the great Barbra Miller at the helm.