Monday Musings: Future of Florida Summit, Two decades of political evolution and activism for Kartik, Online voter registration, The FDP in 2015

cropped-cropped-flsqueeze5.pngEditor’s Note:  Apologies about the late musings this week. Katy had her Future of Florida Summit to wrap-up and Kartik had significant soccer-related work to complete today. Next week we aim to publish the musings at our normal hour. 

While I know many at the Squeeze have noticed my lack of writing, I have been hard at work helping to educate the future leaders of this state through the Bob Graham Center.  Each year, the Bob Graham Center hosts the Future of Florida Summit, which is the only student-run policy conference in the state of Florida. We took about 80 students from around the state and put in front of them policy leaders, elected officials, and academic experts and told them to ask questions and the results were fantastic.  We had three days of non-stop dialogue and learning about public policy, issue advocacy, and leadership.   There were students from Pensacola from Miami to Jacksonville in attendance, so all corners of the state were covered.  If you know of any college student that would like to be involved next year, make sure they get on the Bob Graham Center’s email list.  I truly believe that the Bob Graham Center is one of the true gems in the state of Florida, much like the retired Governor himself. –   KB @BurnettKaty 

I first got involved in the political game in earnest during the later stages of the 1994 election cycle as a student at the University of Florida. I spent my first significant amount of time in Tallahassee during the last week of 1995 legislative session. In the two decades since, I have been, with the exception of few early years spent as a cozy Tallahassee and FDP insider, a progressive and issues first person. It’s been now two solid decades of involvement and my leadership post was as President of the UF College Democrats. In the few years that followed as an ambitious, borderline egotistical 20-something, I would work for an awful lot of the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates and less for causes and ideas. I will even admit that my well-documented involvement in the 2000 Election recount was more about partisan promotion than any sort of ideological zeal.  But since the 2004 election defeat, I have been motivated more by issues, ideas, policies and pushing forward progressive ideas than promoting  either myself or the Democratic Party, my former employer both at the state and local level. My guiding forces are an unabashed pride in Florida (and I mean all of Florida, not just one region as the parochial types promote) and an unrelenting liberalism that at one time was more pragmatic, but experience has taught me must now be as rigid as possible. I have for the last decade been more committed to ideas, causes and the impacts of policies on real people than to the Democratic Party. Recently, I have become even more issue-centric and have begun suspect the personal motives of many in the Democratic Party. While I try and remain fully  analytic and objective in my writing, I realize my cynicism towards individuals in the party, particularly those who have been around a long time and have either accumulated power or money has grown and become obvious for many who read this website, particularly in articles about reforming the FDP.  This isn’t meant in anyway to impugn those individuals who truly want to make a difference and continue to feel the party is the best mechanism for positive change, but I have come to the conclusion that in this state, issue-advocacy groups and causes are almost always more effective than the Democratic Party at the state OR local level. Those few close personal friends of mine in the political game who I would go to the end of the earth for are almost universally disenchanted with the party in some respect – this happens after countless consistent electoral losses for a party that won’t change it’s overarching perspective on things, even if some in leadership try and make those changes. The reality is that after two decades in and around the game, my bullshit detector is higher than ever and the handful of  true blue good friends I have made and trust I will always stand with. Here at TFS, Katy and I will continue to aggressively offer ideas and solutions so the Democrats in the state can be more values-based and successful than they are currently, and maybe help the current party bosses and staff (who aren’t going anywhere before 2016) do their jobs a little more effectively.  – KK @kkfla737 

The subject of the summit discussed above above was online voter registration.  Already 22 states have the option to register online and Senator Jeff Clemens and Representative Alan Williams have introduced a bill this year with the backing of the Supervisor of Elections This bipartisan support is largely due to the enormous savings that come with online voter registration. Supervisors of elections spend millions of dollars every year inputting data from paper registrations into their own online systems, and more time correcting errors due to handwriting. The price of creating an online system is typically around $250,000-$750,000 and states quickly pay for the systems with the money it saves. When Arizona passed this legislation, the price of registering a voter went from 83 cents to 3.  Since its inception over a decade ago, there have been no cases of voter fraud or security breaches. On the contrary, this program has actually made registering to vote more secure because hand-written forms actually leave a lot of room for wrong interpretation. Many voters are registered through third-party groups, giving sensitive information to strangers. With this system, voters can put information directly into the supervisors of elections’ databases.  This is a very common sense reform, so it will be interesting to see if this legislature can get it right. –   KB@BurnettKaty 

I was really struck last week when a number of people kept referring to the Florida Democratic Party as a “Sinking Ship.”  While I understand the sentiment, I cannot help but point out that it is almost impossible to sink any lower.  With the exception of three victories by Senator Bill Nelson’s, who appears likely to retire in 2018, there are no-state-wide wins since 1998 and a dramatic minority legislature since 2000. The Democrats have lost 19 of the last 20 statewide races that Bill Nelson does not feature in.  It seems a bit late to start bailing water at this point.  When do we officially say it has sunk and begin to rebuild with a new crew? Does the current crew have a vision for what a rebuilt party would look like?   –   KB@BurnettKaty 

7 comments

  1. So you would side with crazed activists over the actual people who are building the party?

    It is unfortunate because there is only one party. There could never be groups of activists that replace the party. The party is the central hub for everything that is progressive and those who are not in the party or on the outside.

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  2. Democratic Operative · · Reply

    Kartik was a party hack obsessed with his Tallahassee and FDP image once upon a time but eventually grew into more of a bomb-throwing lefty activist type. I am not sure that is the evolution most want to follow honestly. I would take his script and reverse it. We need to turn activists into good Democrats willing to support DEMOCRATIC candidates and not forcing some sort of litmus test down the throats. At a time when Democrats and progressives are less popular than ever, we need our young rising stars to stay pragmatic and true to understanding what works with the electorate rather than becoming bleeding hearts. Kartik does know numbers and voters and having observed him for much of the 20 years he does understand different parts of the state. But in time he has become far more concerned about running up the score in urban counties and not caring about the rest of the state than he was before. He can claim the party keeps losing, which they do but his approach which is to push leftist economic issues and try and gather huge vote banks in Tampa, Orlando and South Florida simply does not work. The math tells us it does not. We must run a 67 county strategy. Just running in 10-15 counties is not good enough. It is why we always lose. We must begin to carry more counties throughout the state or have no chance of winning statewide.

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    1. I’m not sure who exactly you are but you seem to know me pretty well. What you don’t know is the numbers. President Obama won 12 counties in the state in 2012 yet carried Florida. Also, I have repeatedly stated the Democrats MUST begin the focus on second-tier exurban and medium sized counties like Pasco, Brevard, Lee, Marion, etc. The problem is with the Tallahassee-based party they seem to think winning North Florida rural counties is more important than shaving off MASSIVE Republican margins in second-tier counties and the interior of the state. Polk County itself has more voters than CD-2 once you eliminate Leon County. Even with Leon and Bay, CD-2 has less than 4% of the state’s population, yet when Democratic Party operatives talk about competing outside urban counties they inevitably start talking about places like Jackson, Gulf and Franklin, not Lake, Sumter or Manatee. The later three counties have substantially more potential Democratic voters than the former 3, but the former 3 get mentioned all the time by those in Tallahassee!

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  3. Great job Katy!

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  4. Kartik…I think it’s important to realize that you’ve got a lot more experience and knowledge than most in the party currently, so while you have perspective by which to judge things, others do not. Thus maybe you can help them see the light rather than condemn them?

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  5. I think the intoxication with the process and the allure of power many feel in their 20’s gives way to reality and activism as you get older. I often hear people say that you get more conservative as you get older but Kartik, like myself and others have gone left as we learned more about the world and the plight of people.

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  6. The people who attack Kartik always do it with brown paper bags over their heads. They are cowards who hide behind bullshit and lies.

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