Friday, November 26, 2010

Why Andrew Gillum Should Be Next FDP Chair

Andrew Gillum gives his pitch for why he should be the next Florida Democratic Party chair. Gillum offers some interesting ideas to restructure the party.

Fundraising – Restructure our fundraising operation to support both local and statewide candidates. We can’t win statewide unless we win locally. I will strengthen our fundraising base by launching a small donor initiative to recruit every registered Democrat in Florida to make a small donor gift to the Florida Democratic Party, with proceeds split between the state party local DECs.

Staffing Structure – Conduct a complete assessment of the party staffing and strategically restructure our organization to incorporate a robust Communications, Research, and Policy Department and a Constituency & Outreach Department, to include college & youth, caucus and elected official outreach.

Building the Bench – Launch an initiative with local DECs, beginning immediately, to recruit and train local candidates and campaign managers, field organizers, finance directors, communications staff, and volunteer coordinators.

Redistricting Plan – Assemble a talented panel of attorneys and redistricting experts to create a counter redistricting proposal that will ensure an equitable plan that fully incorporates the intentions of Amendments 5 and 6.

Fighting the Radical Right – Create an opposition research team to closely monitor the actions of the Republican Party and its leaders to expose corruption, double standards or efforts to force its ultra-conservative agenda on Floridians.

I like the opposition research team idea. The Florida Democratic Party's current version of opposition communication is Eric Jotkoff copying and pasting news articles and blog posts and then sending these articles in emails. An opposition research team can dig up interesting pieces of information on Republicans. Bloggers and the media will lock onto a story on a Republican if there is dirt.

If the Florida Democratic Party doesn't have a legal team in place by now to fight for redistricting then Karen Thurman has been utterly useless. The Florida legislature will make the districts from guidelines the Commerce Department's census findings. Republicans have super-majorities in the legislature. The Florida Democratic Party has to fight for fair districts. The alternative is Democrats having their districts carved out into oblivion.

Building a bench and fielding good local DECs is something that should have been Thurman's first priority. The Florida Democratic Party let Republicans run unopposed in many legislative races. Why people acted surprised after the Republicans won super-majorites in the Florida House and Senate is what I can't understand. The FDP can't win if they don't show up.

The grassroots organization on the local level sucks. Florida Republicans are much better at getting out the vote.

Gillum would make an interesting choice for chair. He is young and black. Both groups voted in underwhelming numbers in this past election. (So much for Kendrick Meek helping black voter turnout.) Gillum seems to have some idea for what is ailing the Florida Democratic Party. We haven't heard a single interesting idea from Rod Smith on how to turn the Florida Democratic Party around. Smith has lost two statewide elections and was part of Alex Sink's disastrous Panhandle strategy.

Gillum can engage young and minority voters who feel alienated by the GOP. The base of the party needs a spokesman that can get people motivated. That is why Howard Dean's election to the DNC provided the successes of 2006 and 2008. Have you heard anyone used the words "Tim Kaine" and "motivated" in the same sentence? Smith becoming chair will produce the same lack of enthusiasm.

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