The Florida Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee has been the subject of much conversation through the years. The committee has fallen into a rut where many members have used positions to create a private fiefdom or personal power. This is especially true of representatives from urban counties. Let’s table rules reform in terms of vote weights and the structure of the State Executive Committee for another time. Instead let’s focus on the actual function of the body.
It is my feeling that if the State Executive Committee were given more to do and empowered in direction of the party, things might transpire differently. Allowing the committee to be involved in decision making and strategic planning might very well result in more communication and buy-in from the grassroots level into the FDP strategy. It also could make DEC meetings more useful as local Democratic Executive Committee’s debate ideas for the state party as a whole at monthly meetings. The State Committeewoman and State Committeeman from each county would then have clear instructions on how to proceed at the next State Executive Committee meeting which should be held bi-monthly instead of quarterly (taking the number of meetings from 4 to 6 a year). For those cannot attend in person, provisions should be made to allow online or phone participation. Additionally, the months without meetings should be filled with some sort of meet up either via conference call or online meeting software.
The committee also needs to be empowered to manage the party. Reports from the Executive Director of the FDP should be given each bi-monthly meeting. Additionally the committee should have a role in scrutinizing party vendors and expenditures by the FDP on the vendors and staff. If not given decision making authority, the State Executive Committee at the very least should be kept informed as to what the party’s staff and vendor costs are and be given reports as to performance-based metrics met by the vendors and staff.
Strengthening the party at this juncture probably involves taking chances and having faith in empowering people willing to serve the Democratic cause. It’s important that power that is currently held in a few unaccountable hands is distributed in a fashion that solicits at least a minimal amount of discussion, debate and scrutiny.
For those claiming empowering the State Executive Committee will create chaos, I would say we’ve done it for years your way and despite favorable demographic shifts, have amassed an electoral record of futility unmatched in the history of this state by Democrats. Whomever is elected Chair of the FDP must advocate for the types of reforms that will empower the State Executive Committee.