Despite anti-Trump energy, Florida Dems struggle out of the gate with 2017 fundraising

Florida Democratic Party HQ – Tallahassee

The Florida Democratic Party raised just $853,384 in the first quarter of 2017 according to the Division of Elections website, the lowest post-election quarter one total since 2005. This failure has come in spite of the current energy and enthusiasm that has seen progressive groups across the country find success in fundraising and organizing during the same period. This total includes a $100,000 from party Chairman Stephen Bittel.

The opposition to Donald Trump has reached a fever pitch across the nation, but the Florida Democratic Party is a vehicle due to its almost constant electoral failure (loses in 17 of the last 18 statewide elections for Governor and Cabinet and chronic under performance in legislative races) that many see as flawed and won’t donate to outside of election campaigns. Additionally, the anger on the left that is currently directed a Trump also includes a suspicion of Democratic Party entities after the contentious Sanders-Clinton primaries of 2016 and the role of Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the then Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. The anti-Wasserman Schultz feeling is real among progressive activists and it fuels a suspicion of any party entity. Stephen Bittel is seen by many as a close ally of Wasserman Schultz, whether or not this is fair and truly remains the case or not.

But additional elements are in play.  Bittel and those around him may not have fully appreciated the institutional disadvantage Democrats in Florida are at. Touting his ability to raise money and his access to donors, Bittel swept into the Chair position in a January election not needing a second ballot in a five way race – Bittel’s impressive vote getting ability within the Democratic Party hasn’t translated to fundraising though. It may not be his fault since the Democrats have been on such a bad run in the state, a run that began long before the new Chairman appeared on the scene. But the fact remains many supported him thinking he could turn the tables in terms of raising money,

Time and again when those who are accustomed to raising money for Federal campaigns or donating on the national level are then forced to play on a strictly state level in Florida, they become exposed. This appears at least in the early going to have happened to Bittel, as the infrastructure of the Florida Democratic Party has been so decimated by poor electoral cycle after poor electoral cycle that tempting donors to give money is a bridge too far outside an election year.

Whether Bittel will be able to take the failure of quarter one and learn from it is an open question. Democrats have been consistently becoming less and less relevant at the state level here in Florida, and since 2018 is a state cycle and many outside groups and entities are working hard to promote progressive causes, ideas and candidates for office, the party itself might simply be on the sidelines for much of it – a facilitator with diminishing power and resources.

For Bittel, the first quarter fundraising haul might prove a harsh but valuable lesson. State fundraising isn’t easy and it isn’t the same as it is for Federal races.


  1. mike coleman · ·

    Continually noting that Democrats have lost 17 out of the past 18 statewide elections at least once, but usually more than once in each article, won’t bring more victories to our side and certainly isn’t going to inspire anyone.

    These perpetual mentions are similar to the bumper sticker that reads; The Beatings Will Stop As Soon As Morale Improves.

    Concentrating on the bad doesn’t prepare anyone for a successful future nor will it attract more Volunteers to our cause or give Voters reason to vote for a Democrat.

    When our candidates for Governor lose the election by less than 65,000 votes in two consecutive elections Florida Democrats can be seen as knocking on the door of victory or adding to a losing streak.

    It is far more likely that we can agree

    We have challenges to winning and the worst kind of challenges are those from within and if you are having a hard time understanding that concept just think how lucky we all are that the current Republican Congress and Florida Legislature are experiencing similar levels of dysfunction while they are in power.

    When we believe a bad Democrat in office is better than a good Republican it may be as far as we have to agree on for us to actually work together and end our losing streak.

    There are 1,672,000+ Democrats who voted in 2016 that history indicates 58% will not vote in 2018. That 58% totals to just under 970,000 Voters.
    We know who they are and by working together we can contact them and do what grassroots organizations do to win.
    We help them remove the obstacles to voting that they perceive as reasons not to vote,
    Pew research says the number one reason people state as why they don’t vote is they are too busy or voting is inconvenient.

    Vote By Mail eliminates this concern.

    By persuading just 10% of them to vote will eliminate our loss margin and quite likely can provide us a victory in the Governor’s race.
    Imagine how much better can do than that 10% perhaps we can persuade up to 20% of these at risk Democratic Voters to vote in 2018.

    This 2018 Election is a Voter Retention election and it will be won by the Party that achieves the highest returning voter turnout.

    What Democrats do with these at risk Democratic Voters between now and the end of the Primary in 2018 will be the most important work we do because when the campaigns start playing for keeps the direction of our activity will be in the hands of those Campaigns.

    We are in a period of Voter Maintenance, our objective must be persuading these at risk Democrats that voting in every election is essential to getting the government they seek and desire.
    We must be speaking Democrat to Democrat and we must understand that our greatest power exists when we are speaking of what the Democratic Party has done for the average American.
    This list is long, it includes Public Education, the 40 hour work week, the concept of overtime, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, good roads and bridges and the list goes on and on.

    The more time we spend listing our differences and faults the greater the odds that at this time two years from now Kartik will be listing that we have now lost 21 out of the past 22 statewide elections for the bazillionth time.


    1. I can’t speak for the author or the site but it does bare repeating because the party establishment acts like they’re doing great and they’ve only had bad luck or stolen elections. They’re never willing to stand up and say we’re losing constantly let’s change things. They act like Obama winning Florida and Nelson winning means we’re doing great. They don’t want new blood unless it’s total conformists willing to look past the constant losses and hypocrisy in how we do things.


  2. […] — “Despite anti-Trump energy, Florida Dems struggle out of the gate with 2017 fundraising” via Kartik Krishnaiyer of The Florida Squeeze […]


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