Changes Coming For Local Democratic Parties

In the past few weeks we’ve seen on this site a large number of reader commentary regarding the inability of the Florida Democratic Party to properly recruit, train and run candidates.  The failure to properly target seats and find Democrats to run in winnable districts reflects very poorly on the FDP.  An argument can also be strongly made that the entire structure and priorities of local Democratic Executive Committees are wrong.

While their have been many previous discussions internally about reform within the party it seems 2012 could be the tipping point. Local DECs have hobbled forward for election cycle after election cycle without any real direction or initiative. The FDP has done little work on giving local DECs in the most important counties in the state any sort of positive direction, and worse yet have failed to enforce the long established rules of the party with regards to local DECs and Democratic clubs.

The decentralized nature of both the statewide party structure and local DECs 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 no guidance or interaction from the state party.

But 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.

The failure of both the FDP and local DECs to properly turn “Fair Districts” into the boon it should have been for Democratic candidates has represented a tipping point in the battle to reform the party. The failure of some of the most winnable districts in the state not currently held by a Democrat to even be contested has many local activists and concerned interest groups talking about wholesale changes to the way both local DECs and the state party operate.

The winds of change are blowing. Will Florida’s Democratic leaders be smart enough to heed the warning and get in the conductors’ seat of the train? If not, chances are they will be run over following the November 2012 election.

25 thoughts on “Changes Coming For Local Democratic Parties”

  1. Unfortunately it is very difficult to effect change at the DEC level and Broward is the poster child for the problem.

    Elections are held only every 4 years for precinct committee persons, who then elect the county leadership. Four years ago a significant effort was made to elect reform candidates at the precinct level. Unfortunately the Broward leadership was able to elect an equal number of their supporters and the resulting leadership election was more of the same.

    We paid the price for it in 2010 when Broward failed Alex Sink miserably and now in 2012 when we couldn’t come up with a viable candidate to run against George Moriatis in a much more friendly house district.

    But the local DEC keeps humming along like everything is hunky dory. And I would imagine that so many precinct captains from 4 years ago were so turned off by the entire process that they are no longer involved in the process.

    I think the change has to come from the top down. But good luck with that with the last 2 chairs we’ve had in Tallahassee. We can only hope that the next chair will be ready for a fight.

  2. Delray Democrat

    Here in Palm Beach we have a full blown scandal that may blow the doors off the DEC once and for all.

    The DEC is a waste of time. Our elected officials are the ones working hard for the party along with some strong club Presidents and a few political consultants locally.

  3. The DEC in most big counties are disasters. I have attended Republican meetings and the structure and organization are totally different. They are far more effective. Real accountability exists. If you don’t work hard to turn out the vote you get replaced. In our party you can just sit in a precinct for years, not know your neighbors, and do absolutely nothing to help Dem candidates and keep your position. It is awful.

    I wish I could share your optimism that changes are coming. But I suspect the opposite. Since so many FDP and DEC leaders now know that widespread dissatisfaction exists, they will work twice as hard to crush it. It will also give them further excuses as to why we lose.

  4. I remember in the last cycle some of our ELECTED DEMOCRATS and club presidents openly supporting Charlie Crist. Yet nothing happened to them. What changes are you expecting now ?? Dream on.

  5. It has become so difficult to get rid of those who have entrenched themselves some of us have given up.

  6. WAH WAH!

    At least in Thurman and Smith we have had chairs that understand the whole state not just South Florida and elitist liberal hamlets along I4.

    Scott Randolph as chair? That would be a disaster! We would lose EVERYTHING!

  7. Lewis in Lauderdale

    Mitch Caeser is a clear case of what you are talking about. He has been chairman in Broward since 1996, and has stacked the precincts with cronies who do not work and just use the DEC to elevate their status to gain lobbying or consulting contracts.

    Caeser gets credit for producing huge Democratic numbers in Broward but it has NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM OR HIS ALLIES ON THE DEC.

    Broward produces huge Democratic majorites because it is a heavily Democratic urban county with large numbers of African-American, Jewish and Caribbean voters. Also a growing number of non-Cuban Hispanics. But the real issue is that Broward despite huge Dem majorities is not reaching its full potential. Despite huge growth in Democratic registration and demographic trends since Caeser became chairman, the margin of victory for Democrats in statewide races has not grown in the 16 years he has been chair.

    The local party is beset by infighting and serious corruption charges against Caeser’s chief allies. The DEC itself has become like a legislative body with payments and buyouts of members to gain “influence” within a non-functioning body.

    Caeser needs to be defeated.

  8. How many seats have they taken back under their watch ???? I believe the answer is none….

  9. At least Broward can work around Caeser. Some counties are stuck stuck stuck with bad DECs and no outside advocacy networks.

  10. The problem in Palm Beach is the weakness of the local DEC has allowed the Democratic Clubs particularly in South County to coalesce around elected officials and other activists and form a shadow party with more money and power than the actual party.

    While I get what everyone says about Mitch Caeser and Broward not reaching its potential and being incredibly corrupt at least the DEC there has some functioning components. In Palm Beach there is nothing and the local PBREC is very strong, maximizing the GOP vote it can get in this heavily Republican county.

    In the Broward, the BREC is known to be a complete joke and that helps mask over Caeser’s problems. Mark Siegal as a chair is a clown, a total wanna be that has sucked up the South County clique for his own purposes. When he ran for office he finished 4th in a 4 way primary, despite being a former legislator in NY.

  11. Well you can condemn south county but we are the party. The DEC is a paper organization that can do so much more but we helping Dens via the People’s Choice PAC led by Congressman Ted Deutch and other local officials. We are working around the party and electing Democrats, raising money and doing what needs to be done to keep Palm Beach Democratic!!!!!

  12. If South County is the party than maybe you should look at the races you have not won. What general election has this group won outside of primaries……hmmmmm 0-0 …maybe someone should tell Deutch to stop helping Republicans and Harry Sargeant.

  13. Jupiter Democrat

    Hey MS,

    Do you really want to make Deutch take the blame for Mark Alan Siegal bs and Eric Johnson’s mess? You screwed up PBC in 2009 and 2010 who are you kidding. PBC is Democratic the only seats being contested is the Sachs vs Bogdanoff seat which they are they same person (Bogdanoff is just less crazy). Tell Deutch to stand up and grow some balls already….we have been waiting. Oh and Rader… stupid are these people?

  14. The problem is coming from the bottom to the top. Smith has to go and so does Siegal. Don’t worry people are taking care of it they have nothing to do with the fake PAC that MS screams about. Deutch is doing a great job with the voter issue. He should also take action with the voter and candidate intimidation tactics used by his boy Aaronson, Seigal and others. Buddy this boys and girls were doing this crap when you were volunteering through the local Fed. Prove you are better than this already.

  15. Disgraceful attacks on Ted Deutch, Palm Beach DEC and our leaders now. I’m embarrassed for all of you who don’t understand the time and effort our leaders have out into supporting our party and building our party.

    Helping Democrats! That is what it is all about!!!!!

  16. Hey MS, did you forget how the South Palm Beach County Mafia (Burt,Wexler,Eric, and others already mentioned here) openly supported Charlie Crist ?? How they were in bed with Mary Mc Carty. The people’s choice pac is a joke. It’s all about backroom deals, holding on to power, and money. They do not care who they elect as long as they get what they want. How about Henry Handler and Howard Weiss supporting Republicans while they are toasted as such good Democrats ??? These are the same guys who have put a candidate up against Susan Bucher for the Sup. Of Elections.

  17. It is highly unlikely some of these DECs particularly in the largest counties are going to change overnight. Our party is dysfunctional from the top down and that runs throught the counties with the most Democrats where being on the DEC denotes a certain local status.