Growing up in Baltimore, when I came of age, I was introduced into machine politics. While maybe not the way politics ought to be, machines work. The local Baltimore machine is ruthless, ensuring that incumbents maintain power and largely successfully stifling challengers.
However, as a Florida Democrat, I can’t say the same system exists. While I won’t speculate on South Florida or Tampa, I will talk about Jacksonville, where party building has been largely unsuccessful.
Despite Duval County voting for Biden, the first Democrat to win the county since Jimmy Carter and gains in registration, the Duval County Democrats control only 5/19 seats on the City Council and none of the City Wide offices, not even fielding a candidate for Mayor in 2019.
In fact, in the recent successful lawsuit filed by the ACLU, Harvard Law and SPLC. Most elected Democrats fought against it, because of the false assumption that it’d dilute their power. Even more frustrating, local Democrats still haven’t fielded candidates for 3/5ths of the Councils At-Large seats, Super of Elections nor Tax Collector. In the Mayor’s race, two prominent Democrats, Donna Deegan and Audrey Gibson have filed, virtually ensuring no candidate can win in the first round.
Even more recently in the Special election for sheriff, Democrats got a majority of the vote, about 53%, however, because the party did not force out other Democrats, candidate Lakesha Burton fell just short of 50%. She now faces a more Republican electorate in the fall against T.K Waters, a quality candidate.
While machines aren’t perfect, Democrats need to build them, Jacksonville and Duval County is a good place to start.
Everybody wants to be in charge….that’s not how SUCCESSFUL politics works!