Allison Tant’s ‘Five Pillars of Success’ – How is she doing?

Everybody is talking about it; all over the state, headlines over the weekend reported on the end of filing on Friday and nobody has anything good to say about Florida’s Democrats. Is this the worst of the worst for candidate recruitment? Certainly a contender. While recruitment was going to be rough on a year that has been looking eerily similar to 2010, the number of competitive races with viable candidates seems low even by any standard. Constitutional offices fared the worst. Only Attorney General Pam Bondi faces a real threat in either George Sheldon or Perry Thurston, yet whoever prevails in the primary will face a nasty battle, as Bondi is well-funded. No one seems to know anything at all about William Rankin, who is supposedly running for CFO with $13,000 in the bank, only doing slightly better than Thad Hamilton, who is trying to run against Adam Putnam with less money than even that. It appears that all hopes lie in Crist, who will have a hard fight in November anyway you slice it. As I stated in my musing this morning, the failure to recruit candidates for these offices almost surely means that one one will be no one to stop Adam Putnam in 2018 and then the Florida GOP will safely control all three branches in 2020 and again supervise the redistricting process for the next decade. This was an important year and there will be long term consequences for the candidate recruitment failures for years to come. It is impossible for a party to rebuild when it takes such a short-term approach to matters.

Many of the articles lay this firmly at the feet of Allison Tant and there just seems to be a lack of evidence that anyone else can really help soften that accusation. As the leader of the party, the failure to recruit candidates during this cycle is going to cost the FDP for years, especially for the constitutional offices. Unless the Democrats manage to hold the Senate, protect the vulnerable incumbents, and elect Crist, it will be impossible to protect Tant from the same backlash that Karen Thurman faced after the disastrous 2010 election. There will simply be no defense for her if she does not hold the D seats and presents some evidence of a long-term plan and the party is going to have a hard time justifying keeping her around.

Her ability to do this is questionable. She got involved in politics under the tremendously successful Obama for America, which managed to turn Florida blue in both 2008 and 2012. However, an operation like OFA existed for one purpose –  get one man elected, not build an infrastructure of support and leadership and run a slate of candidates for office around the state. There is no competition in a presidential election – only one man to fall in behind and a single mission. State politics are more complicated, especially in a state as vast and different as Florida and, as many pointed out at the time, she was not a member of the party leadership before her run as chair. She was not experienced with the different factions around the state and has done little to bring them together.  While OFA could get by on an ‘Us v. Them” mentality, it is clear that Tant has brought this mentality with her to the FDP leadership and it is not the same fight. The leader of a state party has to focus on cooperation and coordination, not merely a competition between two parties.

A leader is a tricky job and no could could possibly say that Tant was walking into ideal circumstances. The Florida Democratic Party had suffered from malaise for years and of course, it would have been a small miracle to turn things around in the 18 months time. However, her aggressive tactics have done absolutely nothing to bring the party together, as evident in the vicious divisions seen around the Democratic party today. The job of the leader is to bring people together and instead, she has fiercely divided the party into factions with the Rouson battle, her treatment of Nan Rich, and her focus on negativity rather than team building.

Political parties are not a sports team. You do not sit there and cheer as the team loses – that is not an effective way to operate. There are real problems with the way she is operating and those need to be addressed if the party is going to survive the November elections.

Let us measure Tant against her own words at the beginning of 2013 as she laid out her “Five Pillars of Success”:

(Refresh yourself on the things that Chairwoman Tant said she would do here: http://allisontantrichard.com)

A few glaring things she has fallen short on from her own goals that she laid out in her “Five Pillars of Success”:

~ Empower local democratic parties is her first pillar and unfortunately, this just isn’t happening. She wanted to add regional staff to help with fundraising, field and political activities: that hasn’t happened. Ultimately, candidate recruitment comes from local parties and from the bottom up and the slate of candidates is evidence that this is not happening. Field staff would help this, but again, it seems like it is an empty promise. While the party should be working in the field more, staff also needs to come from the communities they are supposed to help organize.

~ An important component of the Florida Democratic Party’s leadership structure is having a Board of Trustees to help shape and guide our fundraising operations.” This was a great idea – what happened there?

~ I will continue to bring together our grassroots leaders and activists and encourage greater involvement throughout the legislative sessions and election cycles. Through leadership trainings and workshops, we can better grow our grassroots and keep them involved in key battles that take place in our state’s capital and across county and city halls.” Bringing the grassroots into the fold has been made complicated over Nan Rich’s run for the governor seat and as I mentioned early, there is no real plan to bring the party back together after August. The way that Nan has been treated has made the situation worse instead of better.

~ The best tool to effectively keep our grassroots leaders and activists engaged is to have open and ongoing communication Many county leaders around the state complain that Tant refuses to meet with them, refuses to take phone calls, or is simply too busy to worry with matters that do not involve big donors or high profile races. This adds to the tension within the party.

~ “It is important that we continue to focus our efforts in aggressive candidate outreach so we have candidates from within their communities step up and run for elected office.” I know I have already said it multiple times, but the lack of any candidate recruitment makes everyone worry – donors, activists, and the people on the ground that are the backbone of the party. Without candidates, many districts don’t have a fight to get involved in – engagement starts on the ground.

“I would like to immediately establish a Governor’s Fund where funds are raised to support the Democratic Nominee in the General Election. I do not know if this ever materialized, but if there is indeed any money there, it should all immediately be put into the Senate races – let John Morgan pick up the Governor’s race tab.

Overall, it is very clear that Chairwoman Tant has not accomplished the goals that she set out for herself. Accountability starts from within and while it was always going to be an uphill battle, failure to discuss these problems will only lead to more strife and conflict.

Today is Monday, June 23, or as we need to start thinking about it, it is the first day of candidate recruitment for 2016. Let’s get started!

21 comments

  1. Well this ought to put in perspective whatever propaganda Tant offers this weekend at JJ .

    The manipulated fluff for $225 a plate.

    The truth here for free thanks to Katy Burnett.

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  2. Good analysis. I think Allison’s intentions were/are good, but she is not getting the right advice. She was handed the Crist mess. The party put all of its eggs into the the governor’s (Crist) basket, and now we’re going into this election with too many disorganized local parties, very little local candidate support and a disillusioned progressive base.

    It could have been so different.

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  3. Michael Burton · ·

    This is a great summary however sad but very true, having been involved in
    Dem politics for most of my life It seems that no one gets it in the party anymore. When you look at Graham and Chiles they were champions of the
    grassroots effects of politics, now the
    Leaders seem to think social media and
    TV ads are the way to go, can we ask the question, is that working for you. No it’s not!!! Most local party officials have either no desire or knowledge of what it
    takes to run local campaigns for statewide office, in Volusia county Gov. Scott has already made numerous visits and also meets with those that can get
    the vote out just not those that can write checks, Are you like me and can remember when that made the Democratic Party what it was, people of many backgrounds coming together and visiting with those running for office, while Scott is spending millions he is still out in the community’s shaking hands and working for votes. In a recent local high profile race I invited those in the community to a gathering to meet the candidate, ask questions and (key word here) get the candidate votes in the election, it’s a simple formula ask those in their chosen profession to help with their colleagues to support the candidate, sure you ask a local teachers union or AFLCIO to help but you DO NOT RELY on that you get the rank and file aka classroom teachers to join you and ask them to work with their colleagues for the candidate, ask seniors to get their friends to join in and support etc it’s a simple practice that has worked well for Graham, Chiles and Nelson, be nice to the party but get your people to organize and work for them. Our candidate won while being outspent 4-1, all politics are local I remember being told as a young man perhaps when there is no more democract party in Florida they will wake up!

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  4. Two words

    Christian Ulvert

    He rubs the party and is to blame for Tant and the ensuing mess.

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  5. Blue Dog Dem · ·

    I hope the mainstream press copies the article word for word and gets it out.

    That good, that true.

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  6. Concerned Cuban Democrat · ·

    KK, As usual you have hit the proverbial “nail on the head” in your great column and analysis if the sorry state of the FDP.

    I do agree with you probably 90 % of the tine and as you knowi totally disagree with your chicken s*** way of dealing with Cuba and now Charlie Crist has succumb as you have to the dying 80 year old Cuban exile terrorists in Miami that have held the whole US hostage to keep the stupid 55 year old embargo intact by now “changing his mind ” AGAIN by not going to Cuba next month.

    However, as far as Allison Tant is concerned, yes I wholeheartedly agree with you that her “5 Point Plan” has turned into the 5 Jokes Perpitrated On Stupid Florida Democrats”.

    We’ll never know if Alan Clendenin would have been a better Chair if the FDP but we DO know who to blame for the debacle…and it’s not all Allison’s fault….

    Everyone should be reminded that the real blame goes to the REAL puppet (Allison Tant ) string pullers who are solely responsible for putting her there. At the top of the list are Scott Arceneau and his sidekick and behind them all the scum loosing cronie consultants who have all made millions while driving the party into the ditch.

    Also everyone please remember that those clowns called Bill Nelson and Debbie Wasserman Shultz and they lined up and browbeat all the stupid sheep of delegates to change their votes from Alan Clendenin to Allison Tant for FDP Party Chair and…well…the rest as they say…is History…as you have well documented here in your great piece.

    All because instead of the “5 Points…I mean 5 Greatest Lies” of Allison Tant…Alan Clendenin’s greatest sin was to let it slip out that he WAS going to CLEAN HOUSE at the FDP because the status quo was not acceptable.

    Well delegates who voted for Allison Tant, ” how is that working out for you now?”.

    I could go on on how they did clean house at the FDP…for the worst…(with their young inexperienced twentysomethings ) and how they hijacked all the Caucus elections too, like the Black and Hispanic Caucuses, and made sure to installed their unqualified cronies that were loyal to the Tant click.

    And the few FDP “Field Directors” that were hired in Orlando and Miami are nothing but rats whose only job is to report back to Ulvert, Arceneau and Tant what gossip is going on.to protect their asses..they couldn’t and haven’t organized a thing since they were hired.

    And the latest joke is how Tant and her Klan are going to try and stifle our free speach and start their own blog to counteract what we’ve been saying here in our and your own blog which is….unfortunately…THE TRUTH!

    And like the song says…the truth sometimes hurts!

    So I do want to take this opportunity to say, “THANK YOU” for the first opportunity to say my peace…and remain anonymous…because of my connections and position within the party….but allowing me to say the truth and hopefully by more people knowing the truth…maybe…just maybe..change can happen in the future..for the good of the great Democratic Party of Bob Graham, Rubin Askew and Lawton Chiles that I love and hope to have again within my lifetime!

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    1. Thanks, this column was actually written by Katy Burnett but I agree with every word she has written.

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  7. Remember, these “Five Pillars” were a response to Alan Clendenin’s plan that was released. Alan had quite an extensive play, and Tant was being criticized for not having a plan. I remember when this was released,and it was quite funny because it was quite basic.

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  8. Does the Democratic Party really lead Republicans by over 500,000 registered voters? There were too many 2012 races won by Republicans with more votes than registered Republican in their districts. Does the party leadership have a clue about those registered Dem’s that vote Republican? Is that a focus area to “win back” those voters.

    Second, would someone please start an initiative to get another redistricting amendment ballot on the ballot that would create a non-partisan commission to conduct redistricting!!! If the court rules in favor of the Legislature, the only way things get better is to take redistricting out of their hands.

    Finally, to the Dem power brokers, stop dictating who runs for election and help the PEOPLE make those decisions. Obviously Alex Sink was a poor choice to run against a lobbyist OR the Dem power brokers simply didn’t provide enough support to Ms. Sink

    I’m an NPA voter but registered Democrat so I can vote in primaries thanks to our closed system. I see both major parties as groups that do not represent us NPAs in any way. NPAs have enough votes to make election results change if only the parties would put forth real candidates. Maybe it is time for NPAs to field candidates.

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    1. Many of those are holdovers in North Florida. Basically, they registered to vote 30 to 60+ years ago and never changed their registration, mostly because they only vote in general elections anyway.

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  9. I took an awful lot of criticism last year for my support of Alan Clendenin and my subsequent analyses of both Ms. Tant and FDP. I stood by my guns and I feel vindicated 18 months later because this outcome was entirely predictable. I’m only concentrating now on local elections in Central Florida that I can have a hand in helping my candidates win, regardless of whomever FDP supports.

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  10. Fla Dem Insider · ·

    So much of this comes out the dysfunctional DDC’s and the problems caused by the Clendenon faction which include the owner of this blog site or to so called editor in chief.

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  11. Fla Dem Insider · ·

    I mean DECs

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  12. Want to know how Clendenin would have done as chair? Here’s a look at the DEC he helps lead in Hillsborough. http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/local/democrats-facing-uphill-battle-for-hillsborough-commission-seats/2185416

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  13. Demvoter · ·

    Frustrated,

    The article doesn’t tell the whole story. Tampa has a DEMOCRATIC Mayor, a 100% Democratic City Council. Hillsborough is a moderate to conservative leaning county yet they have a elected and re-elected an openly gay Democratic progressive County Commissioner.

    FOUR of the County wide constitutional officers are Democrats!

    Four out of seven school board members are DEMOCRATS.

    Hillsborough defeated a political powerhouse and elected Mark Danish to the State House.

    Hillsborough elected Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Senator Arthenia Joyner, Rep. Betty Reed, Rep. Janet Cruz and Rep. Daryl Rouson.

    Could Hillsborough do better? Of course they can but get your facts straight before you start using a county to attack someone you obviously do not support.

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    1. And you think the DEC is responsible for that? Danish ran his own campaign. The DEC wouldn’t even put him on their mailer! The same with all of those other candidates.

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  14. Maybe Kartik’s desire to help Clendenin is pushing this site to slander Allison who is doing a fantastic job.

    Maybe Kartik’s desire to help Nan Rich is why we cannot get fair coverage of republican stalking horse masquerading as a liberal democrat that is Senator Rich.

    You can read the truth at Not Squeezed later today.

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    1. Dems in Action · ·

      That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Nan Rich is a life-long Democrat unlike your candidate Crist. She supports the Party Platform which I don’t think Charlie has even read. There is no slander when what you say is correct. The FDP decided at the Obama inauguration that they wanted Crist to be their standard bearer regardless of what the people wanted. The FDP is not a democratically run organization. They just tell us what we are to believe. And as far as I can see DWS and Bill Nelson are the cause of the mess we are in now. They need to stay out of our way and maybe we grassroots types can get excited by candidates we select and a Party chief we respect.

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  15. Concerned Democrat · ·

    For the record, Alan Clendenin DOES NOT run the DEC in Hillsborough County. He is only the State Committeeman and his job is to report to the local DEC what is happening at the state FDP party level.

    However Alan does help out tremendously with ANY Democratic candidate who asks for help and is also the Vice Chair of the FDP, but the Tant Klan have totally shut him out.

    Hillsborough has has a string of miserable Party Chairs with the worst being Pat Kemp who pissed away all the money her predicessor, Michael Steinberg, raised within months of taking office because she didn’t raise a dime on her own and because of her miserable fundraising, Ms Kemp almost immediately closed the only office the DEC had in Florida’s 3rd largest county…then choose to run for office herself…and loose…to State Representative Janet Cruz (in a Hispanic District no less) tearing the party apart. And then when that didn’t work out…Chairwoman Kemp immediately went to work as a paid consultant to the Linda Saul Sena campaign for County Commission (another loosing disaster) leaving the party in another lurch…and when her DEC Chair term is finally up…she leaves the DEC high and dry and disappears never to be seen from for the last two years…except once about 5 weeks ago… as she graced us with her appearance because she has now decided to run against another well qualified and well funded Democrat in Mark Nash for Hillsborough County Commission…so we waste precious resources in a primary fighting each other in a countywide Hillsborough County Commission race against an incumbent Republican who has $200 thousand in the bank…

    And we wonder why we keep loosing?

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  16. The Truth.

    This is spot on!

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  17. […] Monday’s piece by Katy Burnett regarding Allison Tant and the FDP is the most read article in TFS history with over 5,000 page views and counting. The previous most-read article was regarding the demise of Val Demings campaign for Orange County Mayor. […]

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