Florida Democrats at a Crossroads – The need for rules reform

Dem donkeyFlorida Democratic Party leaders as well as those from county parties have to navigate through an arcane set of rules that do little but impede the processes necessary to reform the party and elect Democrats. The reality is while critics of the party are frequent, many don’t realize the impediments placed by the FDP’s own codified rules toward anything truly innovative or progressive happening within the party’s structure.

For years, I have never understood why most county party chairs do not have a seat on the State Committee. The same can be said for vice chairs. The people who actually make the most critical decisions and do most of the work on the local level are shut out from state decisions. The Chairwoman of the party, currently Allison Tant also has less flexibility to reward those county chairs that do the best job possible thanks to the limits on State Committee members are the arcane rules. For a chair to influence the State Committee they have to find another route into the decision making realm. In many cases the opportunity for the state chair to bring the right people into a position of responsibility or to reward those who work hard is severely limited.

It makes zero sense for the State Committee to not include the chairs and vice-chairs from every DEC in the state. The positions of State Committeeman and State Committeewoman which have become personal power bases or fiefdoms of influence should be reformed or perhaps even abolished. Restructuring county DEC’s will help to reshape the state party and make it more effective.

While many State and National Committeewomen and men enjoy the paid junkets to go to FDP and DNC meetings associated with the positions, reform minded progressives must ask the question whether the cost of all these meetings which are incurred by local DECs and the FDP are necessary. It must also be asked what the role and effectiveness of most party committees and caucuses currently are, but that issue will be handled in the near future by my colleague Katy Burnett who has strong views on this.

Even if the State Committeewomen and men continue as elected positions, allowing chairs and vice chairs to serve on the State Committee also makes the party more dynamic, fluid and progressive. The existing and entrenched power basis of the state committee people will be reduced with fresher voices and newer ideas on the State Committee.

In the coming days and weeks, we will have more rules reform suggestions, including Katy Burnett’s views on how to make the party’s caucuses really work effectively.


  1. Tampa Bay Demo · ·

    The idea of eliminating state committee people or reforming caucus rules is idiotic and a non-starter.

    You ought to stop listening the Tallahassee crowd and start listening to the grassroots again.


  2. Richard Block · ·

    The FDP is having a big meeting on Saturday in Orlando. I hope that you can attend.
    The Doubletree by Hilton Orlando Downtown
    60 South Ivanhoe Boulevard,
    Orlando, Florida
    January 31, 2015
    9:30 AM


  3. Concerned Democrat · ·

    good article.


  4. Blue Dog Dem · ·

    Spot on!


  5. Patti Lynn · ·

    Excellent article. I am looking forward to a comprehensive PLAN to actually initiate such change. I am proud that the Broward County DEC has elected a state committeewoman, and man, who, in fact, are doing their best to affect change. Eliminating the codification of stifling rules that hinder progress and reform should be step one.


  6. […] Karthik Krishnaiyer writes on the need for rules reform in the Florida Democratic Party at The Florida Squeeze. I, for one, look forward to seeing the views put forth by the blog with an eye towards progressive reform of calcified party structures that are ineffective for a South that is no longer controlled by the Democratic Party. […]


  7. Dems in Action · ·

    Committeemen and women are the liaison between the state and the local DECs. However, that’s not the way they are treated. Some are dismissed altogether, some have created fiefdoms. Maybe DEC chairs and committee people should have term limits.


  8. I agree with your post, but I want to clarify/correct your statement about “paid junkets.” Except for DNC members and party staff who attend DNC events, I think everyone pays their own way to FDP events.


  9. Is the assumption that chairs/vice chairs would play hardball with the FDP, while state committee-people don’t? If so, is there evidence that this is actually the case?

    Like, was there a time when chairs served the liaison role and the FDP was responsive and more progressive?


  10. […] week, we introduced the idea of rules reform in the Florida Democratic Party. Since that article was posted we have received plenty of feedback and the FDP had a statewide […]


%d bloggers like this: