12 April 2005

Florida Dems continue slide into irrelevance

In 2002, grassroots leaders of the Florida Democratic Party, whose average age is probably in the mid-70s, decided that dumping the state chairman, Bob Poe, and installing the young mayor of Tallahassee, Scott Maddox, into the top position would instantly turn the party around. This just goes to show that even the greatest generation can get it wrong.

To say that the Democratic Party is about to go the way of the Whig Party is probably an overreaction; however, state Dems should be seriously concerned about the state of their party. The 2004 election was an absolute disaster for the Florida Democratic Party, but if you listen to them, they act like nothing serious occurred. Let's recap.

Still if you hear the state party talk, you would think that the Florida Democratic Party has never been in better shape. Chairman Maddox talks about how he has obtained a new office, how he has purchased new computers, and how he has increased the party beauracracy to fifteen paid employees.

Unfortunately, a party's success should be judged in three ways - winning elections, registering voters, and message. We just saw Maddox's legacy in the elections department. What about registered voters?

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Democratic Party has lagged in voter registration since last November. The Republicans have signed up 74,000 additional voters while the Democrats have only added 55,000 voters. The Democrats' numbers even fell behind those who registered as Independents or third party, which totaled 64,000 new voters. Democrats still outnumber Republicans in Florida, but the margin has been narrowing at an alarming rate.

As for message, the silence from the Florida Democratic Party has been deafening. Since the legislative session has begun, Chairman Maddox and the party has hardly uttered a word. In response to the Terri Schiavo case - NOTHING. In response to the Republican voucher bill - NOTHING. In response to the GOP's censorship at public universities bill - NOTHING. In response to the first drafts of the state budget by the Florida Senate and House - NOTHING. In response to Mel Martinez's despicable Schiavo memo - NOTHING. (However, it is important to note that Bob Poe, the man that Maddox replaced, was quoted as fighting for the party's principles.)

Florida Democrats should be concerned about the direction of their party. While Maddox has been too busy packing up his office and preparing for his run for governor, the party continues to languish. Last month, Maddox announced that he would be resigning as chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, but that the resignation would not take effect until after the Legislation Session, which is scheduled to conclude on May 6th. This, of course, gives Maddox the opportunity to use his position throughout session to try to snag some free headlines. Meanwhile, the Florida Dems are stuck with a lame duck chairman during a contentious session, when they most need someone who is willing to fight.

If Democrats were smart, and that's a big "if", they would demand that Maddox resign immediately so the party could begin its reemergence instead of simply being a vehicle for its chairman's own personal agenda. This would appear to be common sense, but again, that's a big "if".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish more dems would realize that they are heading for a train wreck. God helps us if maddox is the nominee for gov.

10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous tdog said...

Amen brother!

4:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Stacy Cole said...

The Democratic Party will be changing soon. And for the better. And its starting in Pinellas County.

6:14:00 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Maddox will leave whenever his job is completed as chairman after the Legislative Session. Until then, he is our chairman, someone who I am proud to call a friend.

Scott hasn't decided what office he will seek but an announcement can probably be expected shortly after the Legislative Session.

In regards to the party, we took 4 out of the 5 major city mayor races last year.

Until redistricting occurs against in 2012, its really difficult to win seats in the Florida House or Senate because the lines are heavily drawn towards the Republican Party.

As someone who lives in Tallahasee, I am at the party a couple times a week. I have seen the improvements of the party and I am encouraged that in 2006, you will see great gains by the Democrats.

2:51:00 PM  
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