Performance Measures: How is the Florida Democratic Party doing?

Over the last few days, Florida’s mainstream media has been quite critical Florida Democratic Party. The Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith, who has been favorable to FDP political director Christian Ulvert in the past, has now come out and said that Democrats should be worried because of the lack of candidate recruitment by the party, among other issues. Smith also says that the chances of Rick Scott winning the election are “50/50”. The Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo has taken to the Twittersphere as well as written about Charlie Crist declining to debate marginal challenger Nan Rich. George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post has also given attention to the “Crist snub”.

These aren’t simply journalists trying willy-nilly to get their names known. These guys are about as establishmed as you can get. But are they right or are they wrong?

In the world of public budgeting there is something called a performance measure. Basically, a performance measure budget evaluates certain aspects of a bureaucracy and sets benchmarks to determine future funding. For example, the University of Florida budget might be determined by a number of standards such as enrollment, academic or athletic standards. If UF has a decrease in enrollment, they might see their budget reduced by the state government. Performance is the driving force behind many budgets.

So why not take a look at the performance of the Florida Democratic Party over the last 20 years?

If you have taken a “Politics 101” (or POS1041/2041, a course number etched into the brain of every Florida political science undergrad) you will know that the main goal of a political party is to get candidates elected. How strong a political party is usually determines the performance of that party. This article is going to look at the FDP since 1996 and see how it has performed.

There are three measures that will be looked at: fundraising, voter registration and candidate recruitment. These are the backbone of any political party. This is also easy data to obtain.

Fundraising

If your party can’t raise money, it can’t compete, pure and simple. So, how has the FDP done in raising money?

The method that is being used in this research is by looking at the total amount of money raised by both the Democratic and Republican parties in Florida and then seeing which percentage of this money has gone to the Democrats. I have adjusted for inflation previous amounts to 2013 dollars.

Why do a percentage instead of comparing overall funds raised? The reason for this has to do with election cycles. Those FDP chairs who have benefited from having soft money coming into the party because they were in an election cycle will benefit from their overall number being higher than those that do not have this advantage. So in the case of current FDP chair Allison Tant, comparing her total dollar amount raised to that of Bob Poe who benefited from money raised in the 2000 and 2002 election cycles, is unfair to Tant. Percentages show a true comparison as the ebbs and flows of the quarterly reports are usually the same with both the FDP and the RPOF.

Here are the results of the fundraising:

As you can see, both Rod Smith and Allison Tant have had substandard fundraising efforts compared to previous chairs. Of the total amount raised by both Democrats and Republicans during Tant’s tenure, only 18% has been raised by Democrats, which is the lowest amount in recent history; Smith’s 25% is the second lowest amount. In other words, the FDP’s fundraising performance has been extremely disappointing.

To put it in perspective, let’s look at Utah  — the most Republican state in the nation — and state party fundraising there. For 2014 the split in funding in Utah is 68% to 32%. 32%, of course, nearly doubles the 18% raised by the FDP under Allison Tant. But what you can’t easily see is that the 32% figure is what the Republicans raised. Yes, the Democrats, in the most Republican state in the nation, had the 68% edge (source: Utah’s Lieutenant Governor).

Candidate Recruitment

If you don’t have any money, you can’t run a campaign. It makes it even harder to win campaigns if there are no candidates. How, then, has the FDP done with candidate recruitment?

This section will look at the candidate breakdown in the Florida House of Representatives. The reason we use House is that constitutional offices always have Democratic-Republican competition. In the Florida Senate, the sample is too small to get an accurate assessment. Also, it is easier to recruit for 20 seats per non-redistricting election year than in 120 seats every election year.

This measure is broken up into a few parts. The first part is the number of seats Democratic candidates have contested. The second part looks at Democrats that are unopposed by Republicans (usually indicating strong Democratic seats). Third is the amount of seats won by the Democrats (with the exception of Tant since she has not had a general election). These are then broken down into percentages to give an indication of how well each chair has done on this measure.

Here are the results:

candidate

If we look historically at candidate recruitment, the numbers have fluctuated. As far as overall performance, Scott Maddox has the worst figures overall, recruiting the least amount of candidates, with nearly half of them being in safe seats, and having the largest defeat in the recent history of the Democratic Party in the Florida Legislature. A combination of all these factors made 2004 a disastrous year. But remember, Bush also won the state of Florida that year.

But how about more recent times? If we look at Rod Smith, he had the third worst total as far as seats contested. He did have an increase in terms of seats won. Smith’s 2012 increase is 5%, the same exact amount as Karen Thurman’s increase in 2008. But in the case of Rod Smith, Democrats had been given more seats during the redistricting process, especially in Central Florida. In light of this, Smith’s numbers are less than impressive.

Allison Tant’s numbers aren’t much higher than Smith’s, with only 61% of all seats being contested. What is really worrying, however, is that of the 73 seats where Democrats have been recruited, 41% of them are unopposed by Republicans. This means that the FDP, under Tant, isn’t challenging Republican-held seats as much as previously. And because these 41 seats are mostly held by incumbent Democrats, there is no “recruiting” actually taking place. If we add total incumbents into the mix, 59% of all seats that Democrats are contesting are either safe seats or held by an incumbent. The lack of any recruitment is easily seen with these statistics.

Now, some of you might say it’s House Victory’s job to recruit candidates. Let me answer this criticism with two points. Firstly, over the last few election cycles Senate Victory has had more of a role in the candidate recruitment process than House Victory has. If this examination was to look at the Senate, I think there would be some constructive criticism. But in this case it does not hold as true. The second point is that during the last few cycles, House Victory has  largely been subsumed under the party. FDP Political Director Christian Ulvert, for example, was the top coordinator for House Victory in 2012 but worked extremely close with the party. Therefore using the House candidates as a measure of FDP success and failures can give us an accurate assessment of the situation.

Voter Registration

While we talk about the leaders of the Florida Democratic Party, many of us forget that every person who is registered as a Democrat in the State of Florida is a member of the FDP. The party is not just the personnel in Tallahassee but a 4.6 million-strong group of like-minded individuals. So, how has the party dealt with party registration?

With this measure, we are just looking at overall registration numbers and what percentages of voters are registered as Democrats.

Here are the results:

registration

As we can see, voter registration has been a problem for the Florida Democratic Party. But it has also been a problem for the Republicans. NPA registration has increased from 12.9% in 1996 to 25.6% today. This is a problem that will be discussed after looking at the results.

If we can find a “bright spot” in the voter registration numbers, it has to be under the tenure of Karen Thurman. The book closing on Election Day 2008 actually saw an increase in registered Democrats from the last election. Also, the loss of registered voters in the highly-Republican 2010 election was not as bad as it could have been. Thi increase in Democratic registration, however, is probably more of a result of Obama For America and their efforts, not the state party.

Now let’s look at the numbers under Smith and Tant. Smith had a large decrease in 2012. This was the worst decrease since the 2000 election cycle. As for Allison Tant, she has also seen a decrease, but not as large as Smith’s decrease. The reason this might be the case is that the Democrats might have hit “rock bottom” as far as registration numbers, which means that when the total amount of registered voters to one party gets smaller, losses will also be smaller. This further shows the impact of Smith’s weakness in this department.

Under Tant, however, Democratic voter registration is under 40%, the first time in recent Florida political history.

But why is the loss in voter registration totals more worrying under Tant than in other years? Pure and simple, the party’s lack of reaching out to the Hispanic population. In 1996, 7.2% of registered voters were classified as “other” race, which included Hispanics. In 2006, once the Department of Elections differentiated between “others” and Hispanics, overall Hispanic voter registration had increased to 10.7%. Today, Hispanic voter registration is at 13.9% of total registered voters.

Most of the increase in new Hispanic voters has not been from South Florida, but instead from the Central Florida region. Also, the Central Florida Puerto Rican community has becoming an increasing force in Florida politics, as Steve Schale pointed out a few years ago. The problem with the current Florida Democratic Party is that these new Hispanic voters are registering as independents when they ideologically agree more with the Democratic Party. The party has the opportunity to increase Democratic voter registration with these new Hispanic voters, but have not been able to capitalize. Previous chairs, such has Terri Brady, did not have the demographics to try to make inroads into the Hispanic community. Allison Tant and Rod Smith have missed a golden opportunity to increase voter registration numbers in the state by getting Central Florida Hispanics to register Democratic, but the opportunity has been lost.

Overall it seems that Allison Tant, as well as those who she surrounds herself with in Tallahassee, have underperformed in the three most important performance metrics. The current chair’s tenure has been perhaps the worst in Florida Democratic Party history since Reconstruction. Of course people will say that this is “just my opinion”, but the reason I created these performance measure standards is so that what I speak is not simply rhetoric, but factual assertions supported by statistics which can easily be ascertained. What is presented above is not a self-interested point of view motivated by internecine allegiances or anything else, but the state of affairs as documented in the public record.

36 comments

  1. David, I think the way you look at VR numbers is problematic, because most of the VRs come from new residents who register when they get their drivers license, at the DMV. I believe that most of these people are older, more conservative, so it is not surprising that they have tended R. So, blaming or approving what the FDP did doesn’t make much sense, as they didn’t have anything to do with most (if not almost all) of these VRs. A better measure would be the number of people who have been registered by the FDP or other 3rd parties. Granted, this is difficult to do, given that not only the laws have changed, but the way these numbers have been tracked has changed. However, I think it is quite instructive to see that, since Tant has taken over, almost NO VRs are being done, by anyone in the party. This is in spite of the fact that VR is one of the three goals of the small county coalition! IMO, elections cannot be won without a significant VR effort. The reason is that many of the districts have been gerrymandered to have more Rs than Ds. So, if the registrations stay the same, there will continue to be more Rs than Ds in those districts, and Rs will always be elected. The only way to have a fighting chance is to register more Ds, so the numbers are more equal. This is especially important given that the Rs bring in more money, because there is no way the Ds can out-advertise the Rs. So it has to happen with VRs. So, given that the FDP is doing NO VR, that means that 2014 is definitely lost, and likely 2016.

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    1. Bruce, I don’t think there is a problem with registering voters, but registering voters who identify themselves as “Democratic” (as you mentioned at the end of your comment). It isn’t the goal of the FDP to collect voter registration forms, but is the goal of the DECs, as you also mention. I totally agree with these points.

      But saying that people aren’t registering Democratic is just stating the problem, but not stating a solution. I think we both stated it as being a problem. We need to ask ourselves “why are people registering NPA/Other instead of Democratic?” When we hypothesize, we can come up with a number of different reasons, but they would just be educated guesses. That is better than the status quo though.

      My educated guess would be that the FDP doesn’t give people reasons to register Democratic. Democrats have non-competitive primaries, are weak on issues, recruit former Republicans to be their candidate for the top office in the state. Basically, the FDP hasn’t been able to convince people to become Democrats. While I think it is the job of the DECs to actually register voters, it is the job of the state party to convince voters to become Democrats. With the lack of the state party doing this, it makes it harder for you at the local level to get Democratic registrants.

      Another educated guess is that the FDP’s campaign machine runs more on the “vote against them” instead of the “vote for me” philosophy. When Republicans go to the polls, they know who they are voting for. As for Democrats, they know who they are voting “against”.

      So, if I am a left-leaning individual who is registering in Florida, and I don’t have any competitive primaries in my area, and the Democrats are just throwing token candidates in my district in hopes that I vote for them by voting against the Republicans, what advantages do I have in registering Democratic? Yes, I identify as a “progressive” but not as a “Democrat”. Again, party identification and political ideology are not synonymous terms.

      Now, with that being said, could voter registration be a measurement of other failures by the party? Possibly.

      I agree a lot of what you say, but let me point out a few things:

      1. Republican voter registration is going down as much as Democratic registration. The NPA numbers (which I mentioned) are going up. And of those who are registering NPA, they are usually in left-leaning areas (such as Orange County).

      2. The increase in voters is not from the older voter, but mostly from Hispanic voters. Yes, in Highlands County it is older voters, but not for the state in general. I have looked at the figures are Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole Counties and the increase is in Hispanic votes in those places.

      3. Older voters simply replace dying voters. There is rarely a net increase in this area because of this replacement. As for Hispanics, there is a building process of registering voters “on top of” other Hispanic voters. Any many of these voters are registering NPA.

      My issues isn’t with the act of voter registration, but a systemic issue where individual voters do not see a reason to attach a party label to themselves. This is where my measure comes into play.

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      1. Dave, I think you missed my point entirely. Let me say it another way:
        1. the numbers you cite have nothing to do with actions taken (or not taken by the FDP). IOW, these VRs are occurring regardless of how effective the VR is.
        2. I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but perhaps 90+% come from the DMV. There are 2 categories of DMV registrations – people moving into the state, and new drivers (aged 18-20). IMO, most of the people moving into the state are the older, more conservative voters.
        3. Yes, Hispanic voters ARE a large part of VRs, especially in the ORL-TPA area, but I don’t recall they are more R than D.
        4. IMO, people who register themselves do so more based on national issues, not state issues. Thus, the influence of the FDP is going to be minimal, no matter what news releases they do, or advertising they do, or how much money they raise, or candidates they have.
        5. yes, money and candidates ARE important, but you still cannot win a race where the numbers are 55/45 R/D. No matter how much money you pump into the race. Third party VR’s, done by the FDP, are critical to making close districts winnable.
        6. I’m assuming that most of the people who aren’t currently registered, who are targeted for 3rd party VR, would register as D’s.
        7. I didn’t mention the solution, because I think it’s obvious – since there is no 3rd party VR being done by the FDP, the solution would be to DO 3rd party VR

        If I recall correctly, there are about 3-4 House districts that are actually somewhat close. It would not be that difficult for the DEC’s, at the direction of the FDP, to get a sufficient number of VRs, to make those districts competitive. Part of the problem with poor candidate numbers is that so many of the districts are not competitive; it is impossible for a D candidate to win, unless the R candidate self-destructs. Making a district more competitive would help bring out candidates, and better candidates. Other than raising money, it’s the one thing that the FDP has direct control over. IMO, it should be at least 2nd in importance, since it can directly affect a few districts.

        However, VR is a long term effort. It has to be done weekly, slowly, over time. It requires commitment from the FDP and DEC. They have to see the importance of it, and the DEC’s require (rightly or wrongly) direction from the FDP in order to maintain motivation. Nothing is happening, because the FDP has no commitment to VR. The result (in addition to the other aspects you mention) is going to be a disastrous 2014 and likely 2016.

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    2. But, I will admit, of the three measures, voter registration is the one of least importance, which is why I listed it last.

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  2. typo – I should have said
    1. the numbers you cite have nothing to do with actions taken (or not taken by the FDP). IOW, these VRs are occurring regardless of how effective the FDP is.

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    1. But I will say that VR is not the strongest measurement of the party’s performance. Hence the reason I said it has been a problem for the party in general.

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  3. Concerned Democrat · · Reply

    Ultimately the lack of candidate recruitment and active continuing grassroots presence are the most critical factors.

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  4. Voter registration numbers are following national trends–Allison Tant’s fault I guess.

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    1. yes, that’s my point – these are the wrong numbers to look at

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      1. Bruce, new Hispanics are more D than R, with all else being equal. Just look at the results where the increase in Hispanic population happened. Though I do think you have to control for race. It would be interesting to see how Alan Grayson would do against a strong Hispanic Republican.

        But I think that the increase in 2008 shows that when motivated, people will vote Democratic. Unfortunately, it was OFA with the motivation and not the FDP.

        Again, if we look at research by The American Voter research, Lewis-Beck, Nadeau and others, their research shows that those with no party identification do have a political ideology to get them to usually vote for one party of another. I think that Democrats in general have done a poor job to get these people of left-leaning to commit to registering to a party. But since VR is different from state to state, then the state parties need to figure this out.

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    2. Voter registration is different by state. Some states don’t even register by party. Do you have evidence to back up your claim that Democratic registration is decreasing nationwide?

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    3. Also, I said that this has been a problem with a number of FDP chairs, not just Tant. But I think the loses under Tant are worse considering we have more left-leaning NPAs than we did before.

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      1. Your comments still make no sense, David, and have not been responsive to the criticism. The fact is, the FDP has little to no influence over which party a voter registers for, since the vast majority of these happen at the DMV. Just admit your mistake, or even better, correct the post with more appropriate statistics.

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      2. That is my point…it doesn’t matter “where” they registering. If they are registering NPA and not Democratic, there is a reason they are doing that. Basically, Democrats (either national or state party) aren’t giving people a “reason” to register, which I clearly showed in the points mentioned throughout this post. You might want to called it “not being responsive to criticism” and “make no sense”, but I am wondering if it is a case of selective listening on your part, as I have given more than enough answers to your questions.

        The reasons I have mentioned in these responses are more than adequate to answer the criticism that you have made. Whether you agree with them are not is beyond my control. But solely chalking it up to “it’s the DMVs fault” is something I do not accept as an answer.

        I have my view on the subject, and you obviously have yours, and that will not change.

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      3. “Democrats (either national or state party) aren’t giving people a “reason” to register”
        —- Now you are changing your position. The title of this post is “How is the Florida Democratic Party doing?” If your position is now that the DNC is responsible, then you should change the title.

        “I have given more than enough answers to your questions”
        — IMO, you have merely restated your unsupported personal opinion that the FDP influences VRs at the DMV.

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      4. No I haven’t, you just decided that I have changed. I even said that it is more than likely the OFA’s efforts which is the reason why 2008 numbers were up. Still, 2008 proves my point exactly!

        As far as my “unsupported personal opinion”, that is also your opinion. Again, I can’t control your selective hearing. If you wish to get the answers to your questions, then my answers are above.

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    1. While not registration numbers, good numbers nonetheless. Still, I am looking at the trend, not overall numbers. Back in 1991, most people considered themselves “independent” nationwide. But that is not the case in Florida. Therefore, with the numbers you provided, the national and statewide trends are not compatible. Piggy-backing on national numbers is the same as Rick Scott saying the economy has improved under his administration, even though the nationwide trend has as well. But Scott-Obama economic growth is correlated. NPA/Other affiliation is not correlated on a Florida-National comparison.

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    2. Also, Florida demographics are not the same as nationwide demographics. For example, Hispanics make up 24% of Florida’s population, but only 17% of the US population.

      Also, I didn’t say that this was only a problem with Tant (as I said in the article that it has been a challenge for all Democratic chairs). But with Tant it is more worrying because of increase in Hispanic NPA registration. And, as I just say, Hispanic demographics are not the same in the US as in Florida.

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      1. Still making no sense:
        “Hispanics make up 24% of Florida’s population, but only 17% of the US population.”
        — you merely assert that this is statistically different, but it looks quite similar to me. If you are going to make such an assertion, you should back it up with proof – how about statistical proof?

        “I didn’t say that this was only a problem with Tant”
        —- the FDP has no influence over these numbers, so it doesn’t matter how many times you assert that it does, it doesn’t change the facts.

        “with Tant it is more worrying because of increase in Hispanic NPA registration”
        —- huh? this appears to be verbal gobbledy-goo. You are asserting that because one category of voters is more frequently registering as NPA, that means that the VR they have no influence over is somehow worse?

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      2. Bruce, I am not going to create a database of registered voters to run OLS. Logit or multinomial regression just for the sake or an article! I love how you ask me to “prove” something which requires creating a dataset that would take, well, weeks or months to create. I could look at the trends happening in ANES data since the 1950s, but again, I am not going to spend days, or weeks, to do that.

        Again, you make a claim that the FDP doesn’t have influence, but I say they do. As I said in my first response (again, selective reading), they have influence by how the party operates, messaging, candidate recruitment, etc. As for your last point, I don’t know what you are getting at (since it sounds like gobbley-goo), but I think I have adequately answered that question as well.

        If you have any further questions, please read the responses, and I think your questions will be answered. Please don’t selectively pick what you want to read.

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  5. Further, as you have admitted, VR numbers are, at best, only indirectly influenced by FDP activities. Also further, as you have admitted, there are influences outside of the FDP. Thus, using these numbers is not a valid way of measuring performance. IMO, 3rd party VRs ARE a valid way of measuring performance, because it is a direct measure. These numbers demonstrate an even poorer picture of how the FDP is doing, because it is clear that they are doing nothing. At least, with fundraising and candidates, they are doing something.

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    1. Do you know how to obtain those stats? If so, I would be more than happy to go through them. I just don’t know how to get them.

      As far as fundraising and candidates, they are doing something…in the opposite direction. 🙂

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      1. yes, these are public records, and the FL division of elections creates a monthly report of both VR numbers and another one of 3rd part VR’s. You can find both reports on their website. I admit it is rather hidden, but if you call them they can point you right to it

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      2. Bruce Borkosky · ·

        that’s a summary of the monthly reports. Regarding 3rd party VRs, now that I think more, I seem to recall that the 3rd party numbers on the website are totals only. However, it’s easy (and free, I think) to get annual or monthly numbers.

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      3. I’ll see what I can do.

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  6. I don’t blame FDP for voter registration, but it’s on them for fundraising, and especially piss poor candidate recruitment. The only decent candidate we have running in the state is a former Republican.

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  7. Actually, I think I can mostly (not totally) let the FDP off the hook for voter registration for the last few years. There is one thing that I totally forgot about, and that is House Bill 1355. Research has shown that Democratic registration has suffered because of this bill. Of course, it was struck down by the courts, but this seems to be the reason for lower numbers. The question is if the party can recover from it, but there has been no indication yet that this is the case.

    I will admit, this was something that I did overlook, and needed to look back as some journals to be reminded. Here is some research on VR and HD1355. Again, I totally did forget about it. I think this is a cause, but I still stick by my overall argument, as I think the FDP isn’t giving reasons for people to register as Democrats.

    http://spa.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/04/22/1532440013487387

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  8. L is right. How can DEM’s expect to win elections when they field poor candidates or none at all? Additionally, staying home in a election because a candidate isn’t liberal enough or doesn’t satisfy special voting interests is just plain dumb and will possibly help re-elect Scott. I wonder if we should go to the Australian election method where voters are fined for not voting. “We the People” doesn’t mean stay home and then whine about an election result.

    I did my own analysis of the 2012 FL House elections and found to my surprise that 25 contested seats saw more votes for the Republican Candidate than are registered Republican. Hmmm? Long time residents of FL tell me a lot of voters never switched party registration. I don’t have any way of verifying that claim but the actual vote count says that either DEMs are voting Republican or NPA voters helped elect Republicans in specific races.

    NPA/minor party voters are now over 26 percent of registered voters and the number is growing as shown in one of the graphs in the article. Hello, does anyone in the DEM leadership pay attention.

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  9. […] is a big coup for the Florida party which has struggled with fundraising and candidate recruitment in the past year. On another note, I will have a […]

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  10. I count 11 FL house districts where the R candidate won with less than 53% of the vote. That’s about a 3500 vote difference, or less. So, if the collective DECs in that district could do weekly VR, they could overcome ALL 3500 votes with just 33 VRs per week – over a 2 year period (or 17 VRs in 4 years). I think that is easily accomplished. But, if you don’t, consider that there are 5 districts where the R won with less than 52%. That’s about 1850 votes, or about 18 VRs weekly over 2 years, 9 VRs weekly over 4. Remember, that’s not a single DEC – that’s multiple DECs. This seems SO INCREDIBLY EASY to me, that I find it unbelievable that it is not being done. I can’t imagine any rational reason NOT to do it. So, I strongly disagree that VR is less important than money or candidates. We could easily win another 5-11 seats, without much effort, so why are we not doing this?

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    1. I think it might have to with cooperation. Most of the bigger DECs are in pissing matches with other bigger DECs, and there is a lack of cooperation. That is why the work you have done with the Small Counties Coalition is so important and should be a model for cooperation!

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      1. IDK why the DECs are not doing VR. There may be several ‘reasons’. I do believe that this is NOT a priority for the FDP and, IMO, it has to come from the top, if it is going to work. No one in the FDP is doing ANY VR, so it won’t be possible to win more seats, regardless of the amount of number or the strength of candidates. Expect increased losses this year, another 2010.

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  11. Christopher M. Kennard · · Reply

    The above discussion regarding the political direction in which Florida is moving and the lack of voter support for the Florida Democratic Party ought to open the eyes of many, if not all elements of the Democratic Party state leadership.

    I am of the opinion that voter registration is far more important than mass fundraising efforts so money can be thrown around so lavishly. Grassroots voter registration and volunteer door to door campaigning is no longer recognized to be the bedrock of community organizing, educational outreach and political development.

    I am one of those who switched my registration from Democrat to Independent in recent years, simply because the Democratic Party seems to have degenerated into being increasingly inept; without a real center of moral standards, and because of some of the “leadership” figures of the state Democratic Party are less than shining examples of virtue and selfless dedication, serving the “people” rather than themselves and the “Party”.

    Two good examples of statewide issues being ignored by the Democratic Party at their peril is the citizen based movement to legalize Medical Marijuana issue and shunning the need to establish a national Health Care system that focuses on efficient, effective medical care rather than providing insurance companies with new ways to make money off the suffering and illnesses of our country’s citizens. Both use of Medical Marijuana and comprehensive medical care issues are synergistically entwined. Yet the Democratic Party shies away from fully embracing the issues.

    A well thought out Medical Marijuana program, which includes provisions permitting patients to grow their own marijuana, effectively deals with now well-known medicinal advances and cost. There is little question that the marijuana (cannabis) plant promotes healing and pain reduction for numerous patients suffering from a wide spectrum of medical conditions or diseases. Marijuana that can be grown grown by patients for legitimate use eliminates or at least reduces the omnipotent presence of the pharmaceutical and profiteering medical providers who currently suck us dry by controlling medical care practices and medicines.

    A cradle to grave system of universal medical care that our country can be proud of building to make our nation even better and stronger are issues that Florida needs to address now, given it’s population of retirees and lack of medical care for many citizens. It is an issue the Democrats really ought not be put aside until the next Presidential elections.

    A third issue for Florida Democrats to embrace would be raising the minimum wage, so our currently unemployed can become the workers we need to pay the taxes necessary to fund our country’s progress. We need to recreate and enlarge a healthy “middle class” and the bridges leading to economic stability and broad economic growth.

    A fourth and related issue to address is creating an intelligent, responsible tax system for corporations and the business community. We must reestablish the balance our country had back in the 1950’s, when taxes were paid rather than avoided by overseas tax evasion and tax write-offs. Both hourly wages and corporate tax increases are necessary measures providing our country much needed balance and stability. All sectors of our population benefit and prosper. A fact once known and observed at times in our history.

    Other related issues continuing to need more attention are educational advancement (better paid and educated teachers, more and improved public schools, better educational programs, dedicated funding, etc.). Public projects creating jobs will lead to providing the taxes we need to fund necessary improvements and repairs to our environment and infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.).

    Despite the Democratic Party’s listless performance on most of these issues, I do applaud efforts made to provide citizenship to all current immigrants within the USA and better immigration policies for future immigrants.

    I also appreciate the efforts made to improve environmental policies, limiting gambling as a tax source which undermines public funding for education, and establishing “gay rights” rather than continuing mindless discriminatory practices and beliefs.

    Obviously, all of these issues reflect upon the national Democratic Party as well as the internal state of affairs within Florida. However, it does appear that the national Democratic Party is a little more progressive than seems to be the case here in Florida.

    I recently moved to Ocala, in Marion County, Florida. I am aware that there are progressive minded people here, although the local Democrats are mighty few and very quiet. Being so quiet, I believe, leads to there being so few and hardly any willing to be local candidates for office. Rather astounding there seem to be very little voter registration going on. And many, many eligible voters are not registered here.

    Quiet one-to-one discussions will lead to reasonable public discourse. I easily convinced a number of unregistered voters to sign up so they can vote and have a voice and a say in what we decide we should do in Marion County. It may take time and dedication, but it works over the long haul and forms a sustainable citizenry who reinvest their energy into their community and their country, as well as within themselves and their families. For over forty years I have seen it work, and have faith in our future.

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