Why the establishment grudge against Dwight Bullard?

By Mark Foley (Florida House of Representatives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mark Foley (Florida House of Representatives) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Progressive activists throughout the state have flocked in the past seven days to the FDP Chair candidacy of Dwight Bullard. Many former Bernie Sanders supporters and other liberals who are aligning with Bullard cite that he was one of the few state legislators to articulately push a strong progressive agenda in the legislature over the last half dozen years. Bullard was a victim of the GOP wave this year losing his redrawn State Senate seat to Republican Rep. Frank Artiles last Tuesday.

But strangely this week on social media, Andrew Korge whose campaign for the State Senate ended on the wrong side of Bullard rout on August 30 lashed out at Bullard. At issue was a trip organized by the Dream Defenders taken to Israel by the then-State Senator. Korge and other Democrats seem determined to disqualify Bullard in the race for state chair on this issue.  Several Jewish Democrats have said this week that they will not support Bullard on this score. 

The interjection of foreign policy into the Democratic Party chairs race is a diversionary tactic that the likes of Marco Rubio would be proud of.  Rubio after all has lobbed similar accusations at President Obama including his infamous comment in New Hampshire earlier this year that the President had “deliberately weakened America,”  in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal and the opening to Cuba. Both issues were then used by Rubio in his successful reelection victory over Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. Around the same time Rubio also attacked the President for visiting a mosque, claiming it was “dividing America.”

What these issues have to do with the fundamental rebuild of the party here in Florida is anyone’s guess, but politicians and those close to money seem to be indicating it is a disqualifier for Bullard. No doubt Bullard’s trip demonstrated a lapse in judgement, however a single incident, which has little if anything to do with the Florida Democratic Party being used as a disqualifier probably is rooted in something much deeper.

During the course of the week we’ve also heard various theories about Bullard’s inability to raise money. This charge being lobbed by party insiders, lobbyists and those with a vested interest in maintaining as close to the status quo as possible, could be more lethal. It is often forgotten, that the FDP Chair is not selected the way, for example the Labour Party leader in the UK is (which explains why Jeremy Corbyn is still in charge despite overwhelmingly losing a vote of confidence among his peers in parliament) and Bullard might be effectively blocked by the party’s establishment. Many of those backing Bullard in reality have little to no influence over the actual mechanics of selecting a chair, though they can certainly try and influence the proceedings from outside.

While the majority of the money the FDP raises is in the form of pass through the concern is that those interests in the state level who routinely give to Democrats including corporate-related entities would not trust a Bullard-run FDP. This seems to be the real reason the discussion of the former State Senator’s Israel trip and the social media outbursts of those like Korge are taking place.

Where that would leave Bullard’s support which is made up of the most progressive stakeholders in the party is anyone’s guess. At some point progressives might need to be more realistic about this race, but can rightly ask the question, why are we always being asked to compromise our belief system while the establishment which consistently loses elections keeps on trucking?

It’s still very early in the process but the battle over Bullard indicates to those watching both on the outside and the inside that many twists and turns still are yet to come in this story.

12 comments

  1. Barbara DeVane · · Reply

    The Democratic Party should be more about raising issues than just raising money!!! We are able to raise lots of money and still lose this state to a racist, sexist, homophobic pig!!! That should be a clue to those in charge. We need someone in charge who knows how to organize at the grassroots level and not just in an election year when they bring in hundreds of young people from out of state to carry our message to people they don’t know–they probably don’t even know the road system!!! We have thousands of talented young and OLD people out in every county of this state and we had better start finding them and paying them and training them to carry our message to their friend, neighbors, coworkers, family members, etc etc–and we need to start early in the coming year to get ready for the well oiled machine of the GOP and Rick Scott in 2018.

    1. JOE KREPS · · Reply

      “I second that emotion”

  2. Kartik, I DO have an issue with whom he met with and no, I am not willing to let it go. I’ve been berated by someone who said that it’s racist to keep holding onto this, i should just let it go. Not a chance. BUT, that is not my reasoning for suggesting a different direction. Hiring a politician to do a CEO’s job is generally wrong. There are some instances where it has worked, but few. This party needs a CEO-leader. Someone with hands on experience to build a business model and a strategic plan that can rebuild a brand that is currently irrelevant outside of South Florida. This is not about Dwight Bullard. It’s about hiring ANY political who has not had experience at a senior level that has to move people, that has to develop and implement strong strategic efforts. Time and again it’s the same old argument. We all scream to the FDP leadership about changing how business is done and it never changes. Where’s the effort to seek out and SUPPORT good people in counties outside of the few D’s can carry? Where’s the plan to do this? It’s not as if this hasn’t been talked about. But as soon as politicos get into office they begin the process of building their own walls, insulating themselves and others around them; refusing to make fundamental changes because these changes are outside the mainstream.

    I keep hearing from people who are already falling in step with the same old music. They are all about “what will we do over the next four years?” Four years? No, it’s two years. We need to hit the ground running with leadership who is aggressive and has a vision. If you’re thinking 4 years, you’re wasting everyone’s time. I’ve been yelled at for suggesting that the people running should be required to put forth a plan and have that plan vetted by those who do the actual hiring. No one applying for this position should come into it without first having a game plan ready to go, and that plan should be embraced.

    So far, all I see and hear is people’s past as a reason for their consideration for the top job. It’s not good enough. In the real world it only gets them an interview. Where’s their plan, on paper? It’s not about Bullard, it’s about an anemic system that needs an infusion.

    1. No, it’s 10 years and 20 years. No more short-range planning.

    2. Dave Trotter · · Reply

      I agree with both you and Susan. On one hand, we need a manager to run the party, not a figurehead. Rod Smith was a figurehead, Karen Thurman was a figurehead. And yes, they were horrible. We need a manager, not someone who can just hand things over to the ED of the party. And Susan is right as well, it is 10 and 20 years we need to look at. Basically, in 2018, Democrats are screwed.

    3. You belong to the GOP with this “business” approach to building a party that BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE!

  3. Andrew Korge · · Reply

    My criticisms over dwight running mostly deal with the fact that as local party chair in 2015-16 he did absolutely nothing. He did not raise much money, build any infrastructure, run or elect any new candidates, and frankly did not do anything of substance. Partly as a result, state and congress Dems didn’t do so well in Miami Dade, a county where Hillary completely crushed trump. Now, he wants to be state chair? How does that make sense?

    With that said, it’s also true that he would disenfranchise tens of thousands of Jewish democrats. At this time of great despair, The party needs a uniter, not a divider. We need a dem party that cares about all democrats, and puts their personal politics aside. This I know from personal experience.

    Remember, I was a progressive candidate who the party disrespected in the last cycle. I left the race against anitere Flores (and ran against Dwight and Ana Rivas Logan) because the Fla dem party literally put up barriers to me succeeding in the Flores race, which was outrageous. The reason they did that is simple: Oscar wanted his bff Flores to get reelected, and pushed me out of that race. You should reach out to me sometime – what they did to me would make for a great article on the squeeze. My fellow Progressives would be outraged at the dem party, once again.

    Anyhow, we need a leader who has a track record that inspires confidence in their ability to build a real party. There is so much we need to do. Here are a few examples: The party needs to stop getting involved in dem primaries, and must build a bench of democrats at the city commission level, rebuild our local clubs and parties, and yes, raise money from individual donors and NOT as much from corporations. These are things we must do, and whether you like it or not, dwight does not have the capacity to accomplish these critical task, and his record as local chair proves it.

  4. Patrick J Fowler · · Reply

    I agree that we need to establish criteria before just using a used politician from our team. That has been tried and found wanting. I appears to me, after some years of being an active member of the Democrat Party that the party needs root and branch change. The charter itself needs redone. My thought would be that someone who had experience in real community organizing at the local level and who then managed a large non-profit organization would be a great choice. This is a job of work. What are the criteria for getting the work of the organization done?

  5. Florida Democrat · · Reply

    Andrew Korge is right, Dwight Bullard didn’t bother trying to build the miami dade party for his entire time as chair. In the real world, this lack of progress leads to getting fired, not getting a promotion. Dwight is selfish for wanting to lead our state party after his failure to do anything as local party chair for almost 2 years.

  6. I’ll say again, we need some bio’s and resumes. I for one am a transplant from Maine, 3yrs ago, and don’t know any of these names… not one flyer not one TV ad has crossed my path. so that’s just for starters locally. I’ve kept my focus on the national and can assure you that I’m on all the mailing and emailing lists there. (DebbieWassermannShultz et al) So there’s my problem with the FDP and the Democratic Party Nationally… I only found the FloridaSqueeze trying to research all the judges on this years primary ballot. And I should add did not find much of a rundown on any of them here. How many state democratic voters cast their ballots without knowing these judges names, and what was the result of that?

  7. JOSEPH KREPS · · Reply

    Bullard is an educator who the grassroots can identify with and work with. Bittel can raise money without being the chair. He just wants to be chair to wield power and get his puppets elected.

  8. […] I had no intention of continuing the discussion on Leslie Wimes and The Sunshine State News though now it has been forced out of me. The reference to Wimes and SSN was simply a passing part, one which I had believed was largely accepted by Democrats in a larger narrative about the current state of the FDP Chairs Race. Dwight Bullard shares the general ideology of this site and has been a champion for our causes in the legislature. That is why when the chairs race began I strongly defended him against establishment critiques.   […]

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