Thurman resigns, Mr. “Dixie County” to take over FDP?

Is Rod "Dixie County" Smith going to bring his losing statewide tradition to the FDP? (Tim Boyles/Getty Images)

After a number of calls for her resignation, Karen Thurman finally released a statement saying that she was doing just that. Here is what was on the Orlando Sentinel this afternoon:

Dear Florida Democratic Party Leaders,

Over the past six years as Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, I have been honored by the trust and confidence you have placed upon me to lead our efforts to empower the grassroots and build a lasting infrastructure for our party.

Working together, we have upgraded our technology, modernized our strategies, cultivated a new generation of Democratic leaders, and raised more funds than at any point in our party’s history. We have worked to register new Democratic voters, leading to record gains in our party’s membership. Our investments in building and sustaining our Voter File have allowed us to accurately target and actively engage voters across the Sunshine State.

We have built a successful new media communications program, which allows us to regularly communicate with hundreds of thousands of Floridians through email to recruit volunteers and fundraise online. And I am especially proud of the fact that of the over 38,000 donations to the Florida Democratic Party since I became Chair, nearly 65% of these donations were grassroots contributions of $250 or less.

Recently, while we have watched the Republican Party of Florida face arrests and indictments for their party’s activities, we have shown the Sunshine State that Florida Democrats are the party of honest and ethical leadership.

We have put in place the best professional staff of any Democratic State Party in the nation, who I would like to personally thank for their tireless work and selfless dedication to our party. Providing the guidance and leadership for our staff, as well as helping them accomplish the goals we set, has been the most rewarding part of my tenure as Chair. I hope you will continue showing our staff the same respect and level of support that you have provided over the past many years.

After many months of reflection and discussion with my family, our staff, and many of you, I have decided to retire as Chair of the Florida Democratic Party. In the coming months I look forward to not only spending more time with my husband, John, my children, and grandchildren, but also continuing to serve the Florida Democratic Party. I have pledged to do everything in my power to help ensure that the Chair we elect in the near future has a seamless transition and is ready to succeed in the role.

And I would like to thank each of you for your support, your work on behalf of the Florida Democratic Party, and most importantly for your continued friendship. There is still much work to be done as we continue fighting for our values, for the Democratic solutions to the problems facing the Sunshine State, and for the leaders we need to move our state forward.


Congresswoman Karen Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party

Of course, I could rip into some parts of this release, but I won’t. Instead, we should start looking forward to a new future for the Democratic Party. Thurman is gone, and we thank her for her service, as we did make some advances. But the main goal of any political party, to get candidates elected, was never met.
But now since this is all over, we need to find our next leader. I am sure in the next few days, a lot of names will be flying around. One name that has come up (that scares me as much as the name Thurman) is Rod “Dixie County” Smith. As many of you know I oppose the North Florida targeting strategy, and I feel that Smith would continue to point us in that direction.
In addition, I think that Smith is ideologically where the FDP doesn’t need to be going. I think he will bring a more conservative twist to Florida Democratic politics, which we don’t need right now. We need to start promoting progressives and candidates that will actually fight for what we believe in.
The problem is that we are at a crossroads. In my article about targeting (or the lack of targeting in North Florida), I received a number of emails saying that we cannot not target North Florida. Ok, though I disagree, I will let you have your opinions.
On the other hand, some of the same people say that we need to become more progressive and start recruiting progressive candidates on all levels. On this issue, I am in total agreement.
See the problem? How are we going to continue to try to make “inroads” in North Florida, which is the most conservative part of the state, while trying to promote progressive candidates statewide? We will have to take one route or another. It is impossible to have both.
And, in my opinion, I think we need to work more on the latter. I have quite a few progressive friends that didn’t vote for Sink because they saw her as a DINO. I don’t blame them.
It will be interesting to see what direction the Party takes. If Smith becomes the Chair, we should just kept Karen Thurman in there, as I don’t see anything drastically changing.

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