Continued Divisions Throughout Local DECs

The closeness of the FDP Chairs race exposed the fault lines on the state party level that exist throughout Florida. They also demonstrated the strong support two excellent candidates had gained through a bruising campaign. Alan Clendenin put many important reform minded ideas on the table, that were embraced by rank in file DEC members across the state. Allison Tant, who has had a key role in formulating and funding a progressive network of advocacy groups that have helped negatively define Rick Scott, also has a background as a strong fundraiser.

The contest could have served as a springboard for ideas and uniting the party going into a tough 2014 election cycle. But what has instead happened is that feuds, both age old and brand new are consuming DEC’s throughout the state.

Large county DECs seem to always be characterized by factions and right now is no exception. But it seems the energy and possible positive momentum generated by a contentious but necessary race for FDP Chair (the closest in election in at least two decades) may be refocused on petty in-fighting at the DEC level.

Some of the trouble is directly related to the FDP Chair’s Race. In other counties, the state chair’s race simply provided an easy and convenient excuse for local factions to create controversy.

In Palm Beach County, State-committeeman John Ramos support for Allison Tant was in direct opposition to 97% of his DEC who recommended a vote for Alan Clendenin. Ramos does deserve to be held accountable in some fashion for his vote which was in defiance of the overwhelming majority of his DEC. However, it appears some of the push to create trouble for Ramos locally is coming from disgraced former Chairman Mark Alan Siegel, who himself harbored ambitions of being Chairman of the State Party. Siegel’s propensity for scandal and embarrassing misstatements as well as the declining share of the vote Democrats obtained in the county under his leadership should be more than enough reason to not empower him again. But alas, Palm Beach County’s DEC has long been influenced by outside forces, some of which seek to keep the party weak in order to help local & statewide Republicans. Siegel himself is a loyal Democrat, but the problems caused on the local DEC are often caused by anything but loyal Democrats.

In Miami-Dade County, Chairwoman Annette Taddeo’s strong support for Allison Tant (she has since been appointed FDP 2nd Vice Chair) contrasted with the leadership of State Committeeman Brett Berlin’s support for Alan Clendenin. From where I sit the majority of Democrats active in the county supported Clendenin and applaud Berlin’s leadership role in the Clendenin camp. Taddeo does have her backers and seems committed to recruiting new people to the party, though those new folks may simply be personal loyalists of hers.  But the race has opened up new wounds in a DEC which has been uneven and inconsistent through the years.

Orange County is a strange situation entirely. Chairman Scott Randolph as well as both State Committee-people supported Allison Tant whereas most of the local opposition supported Alan Clendenin. At Monday’s DEC meeting a proposal by Randolph to change the meeting schedule was met with resistance by the opposition. This situation is at least on the surface completely unrelated to the FDP Chairs Race. The next day a writer at the West Orlando News using the peculiar pseudonym “sources” wrote a piece which has no place in the discourse related to our party or any civilized society. According to “sources,” ” the recent spectacle he made of himself at the monthly DEC meeting revealed that Mr. Randolph may have some deep-seated self-esteem dysfunctions.”

Regardless of where you stand on Randolph’s DEC leadership this sort of statement is so completely out of bounds the now infamous “sources,” deserves to be roundly condemned.  While as a blogger I generally support the rights of the independent media to question various things, this is the sort of rubbish that gives bloggers a bad name. First off, the blogger is anonymous hiding behind a silly, maniacal pseudonym. Secondly, the quoted attack on Chairman Randolph, in fact the entire first two paragraphs of the piece were so out of line, you would think it was something the slanderous pro-Jefferson tabloid writer Benjamin Franklin Bache had written about John Adams, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton in the early days of the Republic. Thirdly, personal attacks about fi nances and alleged mental issues do not belong in ANY article about public figures unless they can be proven with empirical evidence or quotes. In this case, no attempt was made to ascertain the truth, but instead the only effort made was to slander Chairman Randolph.

In Broward County, many activists have been expressing anger at John Ramos this week for his vote breaking up the unity of the southeast Florida vote bloc in the FDP election. Still Broward, where Clendenin was popular has its own factional problems which are sure to reappear now that the state chair’s race has ended. In Broward, unlike some other counties support for Clendenin’s candidacy proved to be a cause to unite disparate factions in the DEC at least in some sense.

Several Volusia County activists also seem to be disappointed in the support from the DEC  leadership for Allison Tant. Conversely, some county activists in places where Clendenin got the state committee votes are unhappy with those votes.

The bottom line is it had been years since we had a state chair’s race so close and energetic. In the week since the Lake Mary election, the deep divides that characterize many local parties have reopened and in some cases are getting uglier by the day.

22 thoughts on “Continued Divisions Throughout Local DECs”

  1. Ramos has dug his own grave. The thing that could save him is if Siegel is seen as a beneficiary of Ramos possible ouster. Nobody wants Siege back and his penchant for self destruction as you put it.

    On that Orange County matter ever hear of free speech? You can attack freely here but won’t let others do so on other blogs?

  2. concerned democrat

    The thing you got correct is, indeed, Ramos deserves to be held accountable for his actions. This has absolutely nothing to do with Siegel, or anyone else, for that matter. Again, Ramos defied both the wishes of his constituents and the DEC by-laws, and was rewarded for his efforts by being named a state-wide Director with a “stipend”; just like Taddeo’s immediate “award”. I emphasize, both Ramos and Taddeo defied the wishes of their DEC membership, and have been rewarded for doing so. Does this not make one suspicious of why they supported who they did?

    It is time, particularly in PBC, to clean house. Let’s not muddy the waters with other personalities and issues – John was delibertly at fault and should now pay the price.

  3. Well the Orange County matter was written by an anonymous blogger with no sourcing and pawning off opinion (not political or issue opinion but personal psychological opinions) as fact. I highly doubt the writer is a psychologist. Whether it has been voucher groups contributing to Democrats, the voting record of Chris Dorworth, Republican quid pro votes for lobbyist money and other matters I have always made sure what I was writing was backed up by facts, even if editorialize about what those facts mean.

  4. Orange County Democrat

    I normally like your work but let me say your recent commentary about Orange County has not only been way off base but fueled by just one or two sources.

    You criticize the West Orlando News repeatedly but they are at the meeting first hand while it is obvious you have been fed line after line and even a picture last week by those who benefit from Scott Randolph’s DEC dictatorship. You are not asking the other side for comment nor properly acknowledging that the West Orlando News is actually a reputable publication whose articles are fact checked by editors.

    Do you realize that every rule, every precedent and every attempt at decorum is being ignored by Randolph? Do you know that they are trying to make meetings once every two months, something which from talking to other DECs is completely unprecedented in the state of Florida? Do you realize Scott Randolph has appointed committees that are lily white, ignoring the diversity of the county and denying those who actually elected him Tax Collector a voice in the party?

    Do your homework next time.

  5. I think the dissidents on Orange are idiots. Just a group of old timers trying to keep access.

    As far as Ramos he had to expect trouble like this.

  6. This election has revealed who people really are. It has unmasked elected officials and DEC representatives who blatantly voted against the “will of the people” for purely self serving reasons.

    We always talk about democratic principles and party unity but group cohesion can never be achieved if our leaders continue to anoint those from their inner circles and then use coercive tactics to force votes. THAT’S NOT DEMOCRACY!

    This election has AWAKENED us and shattered our dreams and the dreams of our president to unite and work together towards building a more perfect union. We are tired of being dictated to by leaders who have failed us for more than 10 years. Face the facts Democrats, TALLAHASSEE IS RED! Our current leadership at the FDP could not even beat RICK SCOTT: a flawed and incredulous candidate. That says it all.

    Florida democrats want to unite to unseat SCOTT. But this election has AWAKEN us and we will no longer tolerate being ignored and disrespected by the FDP. If we are going to build a more perfect Florida Democratic Party, we must work together as ONE respecting always the democratic process and the will of “WE THE PEOPLE”. This is the president’s mandate and WE are looking to the new chair of the FDP to follow his lead. WE WILL BE WATCHING.

  7. To Orange County Democrat, It’s great to see that you stand up for the truth. Try to encourage more of your DEC members to read this blog and give their opinion just like you gave yours. This is what blogging is all about. This is how we can all communicate with each other so that we can ultimately better the party. KEEP ON BLOGGING!

  8. People voted the way they voted because of whatever reasons and this bitching is all crying over spilled milk from yesterday. As for the angst against John Ramos, get over it, folks. He ain’t an evil monster. People should just let his relationship with Tant work for their benefit, not go for hos throat and earn tant’s negative attention.

    One of our problems as Democrats is that we fight and argue with each other almost as much as we do with Republicans. We eat up our own publicly. We never really come together unless it’s for a national presidential candidate. Geez! I am sick of it all and that’s why I dropped out of the DEC.

    In Miami Dade, Annette Taddeo is helping the clubs develop. She is working on candidate recruitment and support for them. Bret Berlin has always developed good relations with a majority, has always been helpful and is popular. I hope that both Annette and Bret learn to work with each other. After all, the goals are the same for all of us.

    Can’t we all just get along? I promise to try to stop dissing Debbie Wasserman Schultz so we can move on….

  9. concerned democrat

    No, this is not crying over spilled milk, but it is the expectation that people will be held responsible for their actions. And it has been proven that the only people who will benefit from John’s relationship with Tant, is Ramos himself. I don’t recall anyone calling him an evil monster, just someone who betrayed his responsibilities and now is expected to pay the price. You have dropped out, and therefore, do not really have a say, it is those of use who continue the fight, to make it better, and who are in it for the long haul, who have a voice in who we wish to reprresent us and the county.

  10. Get your facts straight, Miami-Dade NEVER. supported Clendenin and as a matter of fact the only vote taken in a Miami-Dade was overwhelmingly to support Tant (there were Only 3 votes for Clendenin). The committeeman and woman decided to go AGAINST the wishes of the vote, and Chair Taddeo never made a big stink about it, because she is not that way- she’s a uniter not a divider, that’s why she was elected by acclamation! A first in Miami-Dade!


    Not true! The vote Taddeo had of the DEC was a vote of NON SEATED DEC MEMBERS. THESE WERE HERE FRIENDS THAT SHE STACKED THE COMMITTEE WITH. Taddeo is a disaster. Worse than Tant or DWS and that is saying a lot.

  12. Very Concerned Democrat

    The people of Palm Beach County clearly took a vote at the last DEC meeting and did not stand behind Alison but did for Alan. There is a most qualified Democrat named Irv Rosenthal that would be a perfect person to take John’s place if we the PEOPLE removed John. John knew that he should stand behind the people he represents and not his own political gain. In my opinion he took the wrong path and took care of John’s needs. I totally agree ITS Time to clean house and stop the chatting with each other… We have great Democrats who are honest and ready to do their job and represent ME and Palm Beach County. We do have a voice and im using mine, Sorry John, you made your bed, now sleep in it!

  13. It is obvious from reading their well-reasoned posts, that Concerned Democrat and Broward Blues represent the thousands of hard-working Democratic activists throughout Florida who have given their time, their talents and their treasure to help Democratic candidates and issue campaigns locally, regionally and statewide. Now these loyal Dems are being told that their opinions and their wishes for the direction of their party don’t matter; that the political elite will make all decisions, and they had better join in for the sake of “party unity”. Had the FDP chair’s race been a simple contest between two candidates vying to serve, it might be easier to unite, but the political arm-twisting by a relatively few members of Florida’s political elite and their promises to key state committee persons of personal gain leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. My fear is that Democrats will put forth better policies than their Republican challengers, but it will be drowned out by their ugly politics. We can’t fault the Republicans for voter/candidate intimidation and suppression techniques, then gleefully do it to our own.

  14. I dropped out of the DEC. I am still very active in clubs and in working for down ticket candidates. So, I have a big stake in this too, just not wasting my time on garbage arguments and hate fest. You want to hate Ramos? Keep making yourself happy. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that it makes you more important than others.

  15. Taddeo won by acclimation. Everyone voted for her. She took 100% of the vote. There were no other candidates for Chair. So, she stacked the entire DEC?

  16. Democrats 4 Justice

    In Orange County both sides are to blame.

    Nobody wants Doug Head or Amy Mercado back, and Scott Randolph has some great ideas BUT

    He doesn’t seem willing to make compromises and rules like a dictator stacking every committee with loyalists and interpreting the rules in a way that should hold him in contempt of everyone.

    A fourth alternative hopefully will emerge and they can fix a badly fractured and broken party.


    Concerned Democrats are not bating anyone. So sad that some people THINK this is a cat and mouse argument/fight. Being a Democrat means your voice, your opinion, counts, We vote together by majority vote. We should not have to be divided however, when some people like John and others sign an agreement that is a DONE DEAL… Again officials represent the people not their own personal agenda. We must make change and hold people responsible when they do not represent the “will of the people”. Mark Siegel in my own opinion is not to fault for Ramos decisions. John is a big boy and knew what he was doing and why. Lets not hold others responsible for John. Ramos. As of yet their was no GUN in John’s back just political people that held him hostage and he could not stand up to them and did not want to because he had his own political agenda. We are not fighting we are DISGUSTED with some higher beings that have the power over peoples decisions. You all know who you are and SHAME ON YOU! I will stay and not fight but try to make change, not run and hide or quit. We need to stand together and fight for things that are wrong!

  18. John Ramos should be removed immediately because he went against the will of the people who elected him and who he was supposed to represent!

    He voted against the will of his own people for his own personal gain!

    He only cares about himself!

    That is not the job of the elected State Committeeman!

    That is an offense that should have him removed immediately!



    Annette Taddeo is not as popular as you make her out to be in Miami Dade.

    She is another “Johnny Come Lately” opportunist in the same light as John Ramos, selling her vote for personal gain.

    Bret Berlin has been a long time leader in the Miami Dade DEC who’s support of the true reformer Alan Clendenin support I admire in the face of the criticism of Queen DWS and King ED Scott who’s puppet Allison Tant is only going to ensure that the Republicans will continue to rule Tallahassee!

    Loosers Again!!

  19. Setting the RECORD straight – Nothing was promised to Ramos; and the By-Laws gives the discretion to the State Committee person in their leadership role to vote as they see what would benefit their County and State DEC.