Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Chairman of Florida Democratic Party vows changes

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — 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.

"This party has got to make major changes 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 obvious:

• Democrats need to do a better job of raising money. Resurrecting a system used under the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, Smith said he would name a board of trustees, including major donors and fundraisers, to bolster the party.

• The party needs to be much more effective at recruiting and training candidates for all offices.

• The party must do a better job of building up local parties and needs to increase its staff and more effectively manage field operations.

"Here's the simple truth. We haven't won the governorship of Florida since Lawton Chiles,'' Smith said. "This is probably the 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 noted 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 do something different from what we're doing,' " Smith said.

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.

Democrats are virtually irrelevant in Tallahassee these days but more than 1,000 people turned out for the annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner, where speakers included U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson; U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the national party chairwoman; Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel of New York; and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

The party reported raising more than $700,000, a record for a nonelection year, and touted recent mayoral victories in Tampa and Jacksonville.

"If we claim to be the party of progress then we need to deliver on that,'' Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told the crowd. "Citizens want elected officials with idealist hearts and pragmatic approaches."

Chairman of Florida Democratic Party vows changes

06/11/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 11, 2011 10:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Relative 'devastated' after shooting kills 8 in Mississippi

    Nation

    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — Head in hands, his voice strained, Vincent Mitchell sat outside his little yellow home and tried to make sense of how a family dispute led to a rampage that killed eight people, including the deputy who tried to keep them safe.

    Christianna May-Kelly, center, is supported by family members as she cries after answering reporters questions outside her parents' home in Brookhaven, Miss., Sunday. May-Kelly said her parents and mother were among the people gunned down during a shooting in rural Mississippi Saturday night. [AP photo]
  2. Forecast: Sunny, clear Memorial Day ahead of increased rain chances throughout the week

    Weather

    If you're planning on heading outside today for Memorial Day activities, the weather shouldn't get in the way.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. North Korean missile launch may be testing rivals, not technology

    World

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday,. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of test launches as the North seeks to build nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. [AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]
  4. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Samantha Bee on Florida felonies

    State Roundup

    Comedian Samantha Bee traveled to Florida, where she says "retirees and democracy go to die," to shed light on how the state makes it difficult for felons to regain the right to vote.

    Samantha Bee hosts Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Bee portrayed some of Florida’s felonies as not so serious on her show.
  5. For some, Memorial Day comes around more than just once a year

    Military

    ST. PETERSBURG — It is shortly before nine on a Friday morning, and the heat is already approaching unbearable levels at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

    Iles carefully digs up the St. Augustine grass so that it will continue to grow when it is placed back on the gravesite. He tries not to disturb the root base.