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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rod Smith: Time to transform the Fla Dem party



Close to rock bottom after the last election, the Florida Democratic party is gearing up to transform itself. State Party Chairman Rod Smith told party leaders Saturday that if Democrats hope to regain relevance in Florida sweeping changes are needed at a party that has proved inadequate in election after election for two decades.
"This party has got to make major changes both in the way we are structured, the way we do campaigns, the way we do much of our work as a party, and in the way we raise money and manage ourselves as a party," Smith told members of the state party executive committee meeting in Hollywood for the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner.
He didn't offer details, but the broad outlines seem pretty obvious:
**Democrats need to do better raising money and isn't viable when Republican often outspend them four-to-one. Resurrecting a system under the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, Smith said he would would name a board of trustees (major donors and fundraisers) to bolster the party.
**The party needs to be much more effective recruiting and training candidates for all offices.
**The party must do a better job building up local parties and needs to have increase its staff and manage effective field operations.
"Here's the simple truth. We haven't won the governor ship of Florida since Lawton Chiles. This is probably he first time that I can say if you entered kindergarten in this state and just graduated from high school, you never had a Democrat governor. And, by the way, your education suffered because of it,''Smith said, noting that Democrats don't even have enough legislators any more to procedurally block bad bills.
"If you were looking at us and grading us as a team or business you would have to say, 'I don't know what we necessarily have to do, but we absolutely have to something different from what were doing.' "
A task force headed by Sarasota Democratic chairwoman Rita Ferrandino collected hundreds of pages of recommendations from donors, party leaders and grass roots activists, though specific recommendations have not been released.

[Last modified: Saturday, June 11, 2011 9:41pm]


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