By Dr Rachel Pienta
In response to Brook Hines’s blog-post, “5 LIES THE FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY NEEDS TO STOP TELLING”…
The blog post title is click bait…and, I admit, it got me. I wanted to know if Hines had anything original to say. A few of the points made had merit, others were oversimplified or simply off base.
I agree that fingers will always be pointed out county parties. And that irritates the heck out of me.
Additionally, the RPOF fundraising strategy translates into support at the grassroots level — the level of funding given to RECs translate into tens of thousands of dollars per county. The paltry amount that DECs are told to “earn” as grants does not compare.
After these points, we mostly diverge.
We had good top of the ballot candidates in 2010. We still lost. To conflate what happened with Charlie Crist in 2014 with what is happening now with the furor over who should receive support from the DSCC or the state party in the Senate race is something else entirely.
To limit the discussion to an argument over the relative merits of a Grayson or Murphy candidacy without acknowledging the candidacy of Pam Keith seems a bit…dare I say…hypocritical?
Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist I hold in some esteem, asserts that the Florida Democratic Party does not have the power that people ascribe to it. To this, I respond….yes…and no…
The donor class does look to the Democratic Party establishment for a stamp of approval. If a candidate does not get the establishment nod, fundraising at the national level – that is needed for a successful Congressional or Senatorial campaign – is difficult. But the nod does not originate in Tallahassee, that nod process happens in Washington for federal seats.
In actuality, making an analysis about what is happening at the state party level about specific federal candidates misses the boat on the role of the DCCC and the DSCC.
I do want to see the polls that show a surge for Bernie Sanders. I do hear enthusiasm for Sanders at cocktail parties but that likely says more about the people I am bending my elbow with than it does about political polling.
Is there a gap between donor values and voters (insert “grassroots” when Hines says “voters”)? At the state and federal level, I would say there is a gap. Others may say it is a chasm.
The notion of lazy voters? Hogwash. Uninspired voters, another story. Voters that have not been touched by a well-orchestrated (and well-funded) field program are not likely to turn out to vote. Field, tv media, and social media are today’s three-legged stool, or triumvirate, of a successful GOTV program.
However, does all that matter if we don’t have good candidates? Candidate recruitment matters. Voters respond to compelling narrative about good candidates – when the field and GOTV effort brings the narrative to them.
How does that explain 2010 you might ask? The answer is simple – sometimes you cannot out work or out raise a wave year. What Gwen Graham did in Congressional District 2 in 2014 is hard to achieve.
The vitriol toward Charlie Crist is misplaced. His party switch story had the potential to be compelling. The Scott campaign beat Crist at the money game — which translated into deficits at the field and media levels. Lest we forget, Democrats also still rue the day they let the Governor’s race be switched to the presidential midterm year.
Hines is wrong about what happens during non-Presidential years. Democrats in Florida have not successfully turned out the vote to win the executive branch since the last time Jeb Bush lost a gubernatorial election.
The truest part of Hines’s blog post is that we should not expect any earth shattering revelations from the LEAD taskforce.
That said, what may be most compelling about what Hines has to say is that the blog post addresses a particular sentiment among grassroots Democrats. How the grassroots feel matters. Having the opportunity to engage in discourse about the heart and soul of our state party is part of how we will keep the grassroots engaged and working to elect Democratic candidates, whomever they may be.
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