Jon Ausman the most enigmatic and controversial Democratic activist in the state is at it again. This time he is picking on the neighboring Wakulla County Democratic Party. Why? Ausman doesn’t want to contribute to an upcoming event the Wakulla DEC is hosting, lobbying Leon County Democrats to not buy seats. It’s not a neighborly thing to do for starters but is wrong on so many more levels.
Through the years Ausman, a brilliant political mind has created pressure points within the party to manipulate events in his favor. The issue of the Wakulla Democratic Party appears to be same.
Ausman claims publicly the Wakulla DEC has wasted most of its funds but the record tells a distinctly different story. Over the past 18 months the Wakulla Democratic Party has done the following:
1 – sponsored the Small County Coalition conference.
2- met Small County VR and VBM goals and earned the Small County Coalition grant.
3- opened and sustained an Obama headquarters with ZERO FUNDING from the Obama campaign. Wakulla Democrats did that solely on the basis of their own local fundraising. Most small counties were unable to do this.
4- The party held multiple voting forums
5 – The party did voter registration at churches
6 – The local party volunteered with Operation Santa and spearheaded Tropical Storm Debby relief efforts – including allowing our HQ to be a staging area for donations
7- The local DEC was responsible for a successful special ballot referendum in May — helping Wakulla County Schools win the referendum to provide extra funding for local schools. The GOTV efforts of the party were widely praised by school officials and parents.
8 – The party also held a “state of the district 2” event to introduce Gwen Graham to CD2 voters which included with special guests Bill Montford and Jeremy Branch.
This is a record most small counties and even some large counties cannot claim to have replicated. The small county coalition has praised Wakulla’s DEC time and again and this is an election cycle where counties like Wakulla, rural but with lots of Government employees and a growing number of progressives will be critical in the statewide elections. It makes zero sense for Jon Ausman, who knows the importance of his neighboring country to take such a ridiculous public stand.
What is ironic is Ausman in the past derived his power base from the small county coalition especially the rural counties that make up Congressional District 2, Ausman as noted above is a brilliant political operator whose strategic advice is often very useful for the party. But on this issue as with many others recently, he is dabbling in dangerous territory where his rhetoric will actually undermine the party’s efforts in 2014?
Speculation in Tallahassee centers on Ausman’s own feelings about the CD-2 race and potential Democratic nominee. But I will save that speculation for others and just point out here what Ausman is saying about Wakulla’s Democrats not only stinks but is highly inaccurate.
It is very clear Mr. Ausman is jealous of the work done by the Wakulla County Democratic Party. He should be. Under the leadership of Dr. Rachel Sutz Pienta and Diane Wilson, this small rural county has done a great deal of work in a very short period of time. Instead of applauding their obvious well honed organizational skills and their commitment to each of these events, he finds it necessary to berate them. Unfortunately for him, the proof is in the pudding. The taste of victory is sweet, and the final product is a success. Does the Democratic party need Mr. Ausman as much as he needs the Democratic party? It is certainly food for thought!
A County Democratic Executive Committee is charged with a responsibility to deliver votes for its party’s nominees. All activities should be oriented to that event.
While intra-party awards and social activities are important in general morale and visibility the focus should be on voter registration, voter education and voter turnout.
Lets look at some election results and voter registration numbers.
First, the 2012 State Attorney results featuring Democratic incumbent Willie Meggs versus Republican challenger Pete Williams.
2012 State Attorney Results: Circuit 2
Williams Meggs Net
County Rep Dem % Rep % Dem Dem
Franklin 3,007 2,261 57.1 42.9 -746
Gadsden 9,677 11,964 44.7 55.3 2,287
Jefferson 3,823 3,789 50.2 49.8 -34
Leon 66,776 73,453 47.6 52.4 6,677
Liberty 1,507 1,644 47.8 52.2 137
Wakulla 8,871 5,540 61.6 38.4 -3,331
Total 93,661 98,651 48.7 51.3 4,990
As the numbers clearly indicate, the county Democratic candidate Meggs did the very worse in was Wakulla. The can be seen in both the % Democratic vote for Meggs and by the net difference between votes for Meggs the Democratic over votes for Williams the Republican.
Next up, voter registration statistics as certified by the Florida Division of elections before the 2010 and 2012 general elections. The issue here is what are the net changes. For the purpose of this exercise I am going to limit myself to counties that were wholely in the 2nd Congressional District in both 2010 and 2012.
As you can see in the Big Bend area of Florida the county with the worse net percent change of Democratic voters to Republican voters is Wakulla.
Net Dem/ Net % Dem/
County Rep Change Rep Change
Bay -5,761 -4.4
Calhoun -327 -2.7
Franklin -702 -6.1
Gadsden -432 -2.5
Gulf -631 -6.3
Jackson -1,299 -6.2
Liberty 41 -2.0
Taylor -705 -4.8
Wakulla -1,081 -7.0
Total -10,897 -5.2
If one wants to look at the counties currently in the 2nd Congressional District then you would find that in terms of net percent change for President Barack Obama in his 2008 and 2012 campaigns would show eleven (11) counties did better than Wakulla. These counties are (by ranking): Liberty, Gadsden; Taylor; Washington; Madison; Leon; Jackson; Jefferson; Gulf; Bay; and Holmes.
Only two (2) counties saw a worse net percent change: Franklin and Calhoun.
This issue which result in this article being written was the Wakulla County DEC requested a $1,000 donation from the Leon County Democratic Party. Having raised and donated money to the Leon County Democratic Party I gave that money because I wanted it to support election activities in Leon County.
I supported, and helped author, the $50,000 a year small county grant program in the Florida Democratic Party budget. These funds are specifically earmarked for small counties. When I give money to the FDP I expect funds to be spent support state or other county candidates.
I should mention that last year I wrote a $75.00 check to the Wakulla County Democratic Executive Committee and donated to Wakulla County Democratic candidates in the past.
I pledged to send them a check for $60.00 out of my personal pocket last night during the Leon County Democratic Party’s Steering Committee meeting. I do not mind donating my personal funds to Wakulla but I do not support giving Leon County Democratic Party money to an organization that needs to refocus on its core meeting.
By the way, if you go to the Wakulla County Supervisor of Elections website and look at the WCDEC’s first quarter 2013 report (http://wakulla.electionsfl.org/portals/wakulla/documents/2723_001.pdf) you will see a $600 check written to buy tickets to the Capital Corps Press Skits. While some may contend the Press Skits held in Tallahassee help voter registration, voter education and voter turnout in Wakulla I am not sure it is very effective in achieving those three goals.
Finally, next time you mention my name in an article, especially such a one sided article, I would greatly appreciate you contacting me before your publish the article. You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call me at 850-321-7799.
With respect, I am,
Jon M. Ausman, Member
Democratic National Committee
PS I am simply sharing election facts in the form of electoral results and voter registration. An additional fact is that a majority of the members of the Leon County Democratic Party voted to not donate $1,000 to the Wakulla County DEC.
John Ausman, shame on you for disparaging another Democratic group! Democrats help Democrats because who else will do it? Republicans? I do not understand why you would publicly or privately not want to be associated with other Democrats. I don’t care what position you hold but you do not represent all of the Leon Democrats and you should be ashamed!! Are you a solid Democrat or are you not a solid Democrat? We don’t have time for your political posturing. We have important work to do in Wakulla County to raise money to rid our state of Steve Southerland and Rick “Pink Slip Rick” Scott. While you are bashing other Democrats we are doing what needs to be done for the Democratic Party. You should apologize to Chair, Rachel Sutz Pienta immediately!