Introducing our six candidates for FDP Chair

Editor’s Note:  Since Terrie Rizzo announced she will not run for re-election, six candidates have announced their candidacy for Chair of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP). Below are the announcements by Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut and former Miami-Dade Mayor Mannie Diaz, followed by articles on candidates Dr. Janelle Christensen, President of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, and former Democratic National Committee member Nikki Barnes.  Hillsborough County Democratic Party Chair Ione Townsend  and Orange County Democratic Chair Wes Hodge also recently joined the race.

The Organizational Meeting of the State Executive Committee will be held via Zoom on Saturday, January 9, 2021, at 12 p.m. EST with elections for the new FDP Chair and other officers. Our Chair Teresa Jenkins, Committeeman Tom Garner and Committeewoman Dr. Lucy Huyke Garner will vote, representing Charlotte County. All Charlotte County Precinct Captains and Associate Members are encouraged to call Tom at 941-457-7684, Lucy at 941-391-1385 or via email them at [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] to tell them who should be the next FDP Chair after reading this article and/or attending this Candidate Forum on Sunday, Jan 3rd at 7 PM.

Dec 9, 2020 update: Please read a press release from Manny Diaz regarding endorsements, appearing at the end of this article.

Dec 17, 2020 update: Hillsborough County Democratic Party Chair Ione Townsend  has decided to to run for FDP chair. Read about her candidacy below and here. Hillsborough County is the 4th largest county in Florida.  Ione Townsend has been very active with the party since 2004 after moving to the area from Maine and campaigned for former President Obama. She retired recently as a Nurse Practitioner from a large hospital in the Tampa area. She is proud of her fundraiser skills and her ability to work with all type of Democrats under her large tent with her center left ideology. Dr. Lucy Huyke Garner worked with her as a member of the FDP By-laws Ad Hoc Committee 2017/2018, and her collaboration was outstanding.

Dec 22, 2020 update: Orange County Democratic Chair Wes Hodge, who oversaw a deep-blue transformation in his county, announced he is running for the open Florida Democratic Party chair. Read more here and below:

Wes Hodge and Congressman John Lewis

Wes Hodge’s journey into activism began, like many Americans, advocating for a constituency of one — himself. 

It’s no secret that Wes is a cancer survivor, but most people don’t know what he gave up to beat it. As is the case with many cancer patients, it’s not always a one-round game. Most patients move in and out of remission over time, living life on the point of a needle, staying healthy and doing all the right things in hopes that THIS TIME, it’s gone away.

Wes was no different. After racking up tens of thousands in medical bills the first time around his cancer fell into remission, it came back. Uninsured and afraid of drowning in medical debt, he was advised that his returning cancer actually qualified him for full Social Security disability payments. But there was a catch — he couldn’t have a job. His bills would be manageable, but he couldn’t have a career. His American Dream turned into a survival trap, which left him little choice. If he was going to be able to afford life-saving treatment, he’d have to give up any other dreams of a career, and live the rest of his life on a fixed income.

Not long after that, he found himself almost accidentally at a town hall with then-Congressman Alan Grayson, and that’s when he discovered that he wasn’t as powerless as he thought after all.

Politics became my full time job,” he said. “I started volunteering and learned the terrain from scratch. I wasn’t some bright-eyed poly-sci grad gearing up for a life in public service. I was a disgruntled voter seeking to end this cruel and unusual American system of for-profit corporate-run healthcare. I started as a single issue activist, and grew to embrace the values of the Democratic Party and dedicated myself to carrying that banner.”

Since that time in 2010 when he was first inspired to jump into the fray, he has worked at every level of Orange County politics, eventually leading the region as County Chair. During  his time in the trenches, his accomplishments in Orange County include:

  • Nearly 400,000 slate cards in 4 different languages were made available to Orange County voters ahead of November’s election. 
  • The local party partnered with the County’s Black and Hispanic Caucuses to fund outreach efforts into their communities. 
  • Multiple community events and outreach were planned and carried out with these Caucuses as well as the Democratic Women’s Club Chapters to truly offer a coordinated campaign effort in Orange County.
  • Down ballot Democratic candidates set record vote totals in Soil & Water races demonstrating the true effectiveness of the Party’s outreach efforts.
  • Since 2016, Orange County has seen Democratic voter performance continue to set new records. In 4 short years with support from the local party, the County Commission has flipped from a 5-2 Republican majority to a 6-1 Democratic supermajority.
  • The Soil & Water Board has gone from having just 3 elected Democrats to a completely Democratic board. In 2018, 3 of the 5 state house seats which were flipped came from Orange County. 
  • Additionally, all 3 of these seats were successfully defended in 2020, unlike many others throughout Florida.

He enters this race not to promote himself, but rather, a plan that he hopes to activate in order to lead Democrats back to a majority in the state. His commitment is to use what he has learned through his journey to fuel and inspire others to join our fight. 

Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut Seeks to “Re-energize, Reclaim & Recruit,” in the Race for Florida Democratic Party Chair.  Press release by Cynthia Moore Chestnut, 352-317-8291, Dec 7, 2020

Dr, Cynthia Moore Chestnut

Gainesville -Today, lifelong Democratic trailblazer Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut formally announced her candidacy for Chair of the Florida Democratic Party. “My experience at the grassroots level in the Florida Democratic Party will be my guiding vision to “Re-energize, Reclaim & Recruit” Democrats as we move forward. As a proven leader with a strong record of party leadership, I feel confident meeting this moment with an even hand and resume of results.”

Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut is notably the first African American woman to be elected to the Gainesville City Commission, the first African American woman to be elected Mayor-Commissioner of Gainesville, the first woman and the first African American to be elected to the Florida House of Representatives from Alachua, Marion and Putnam Counties and the first African American Woman elected to the Alachua County Commission. Currently Chestnut serves as Chair of the Democratic County Chairs Association, Chair of the Alachua County Democratic Party and a Precinct Captain in Alachua County.

She is frequently looked to as a breaker of barriers by peers in the Democratic Party, known for her advocacy of marginalized communities and the working poor. In her various positions of power, she has demonstrably lifted up young talent and worked to build a bench in Alachua County, nurturing diversity in a long-term vision she believes is vital to a much-needed restructuring of the Florida Democratic party.

Offering a platform of “Re-Energize, Reclaim, Recruit,” Cynthia Moore Chestnut is calling for dynamic changes to the party infrastructure and strategy. The platform seeks to address failures in voter engagement and community organizing, pushing for a year-round voter registration effort, an emphasis on reconnecting the party with its base and ultimately restoring trust with voters through transparency and accountability.

From: Manny Diaz <[email protected]>
Date: December 1, 2020 at 9:46:00 AM EST
Subject: I’m Running for FDP Chair

Manny Diaz

I’m excited to share with you first that I am officially announcing my campaign to be Florida Democratic Party Chair and I hope to earn your support in the coming days and weeks. I look forward to many conversations, phone calls and zoom calls to talk about the work we can do – together – to build a strong Democratic party to help elect Democrats across the state. 

Year-round voter engagement. Year-round deep grassroots organizing. 

That’s how we as Florida Democrats start winning statewide and local elections again and those two core concepts encompass my vision for how we successfully rebuild our state party, one county and one precinct at a time, with no one left behind or taken for granted. 

If you agree with this approach, I hope I can earn your support to become the next Chair of the Florida Democratic Party and help me turn that vision into a formidable, well-funded, well-organized, data-driven, state-of-the-art campaign machine focused on supporting Democratic turnout and candidates in all 67 counties. 

Since 2000, Democrats have lost 27 out of 34 statewide elections for President, Governor, U.S. Senate, and the Florida Cabinet. This is unacceptable and as we near 270,000 deaths as a result of this pandemic, we’re reminded every single day of the consequences of these losses. 

That is why I am running and I am ready to focus all of the efforts of the Florida Democratic Party on those activities that help create the conditions for electoral success. Our belief in the superiority of our policy ideas is moot without a permanent and sustained political apparatus that is designed to actually win elections so that those policies can be implemented.

I believe I can get this done because it’s what I’ve done my entire life. I got my start working in Florida Democratic politics as a teenaged campaign volunteer, then as a DEC member and grassroots community organizer, as a civic leader and fundraiser, and later as the elected, two-term Mayor of the City of Miami. I’m proud of the work we did to engage residents around affordable housing, public transit, and economic development that transformed Miami from a national punchline into a world-class metropolis. And my progressive environmental policies earned me the nickname, “the Green Mayor,” from former Vice President Al Gore. 

My career in public service has provided me with a unique perspective and a lifetime of experiences and relationships throughout Florida and across the country that I would bring with me to the job of FDP Chair. 

It starts with organizing at the most local level and building a message that resonates with the day-to-day issues Floridians are facing and developing a 67-county strategy that’s focused on the goal of building the infrastructure and electing Democrats not just the final few months before Election Day, but every single day, especially in the off years. 

This starts by cultivating an active small donor program and asking the millions of Florida Democrats -that believe as we do- to invest in electing leaders up and down the ticket to pass and implement the policies that will help Floridians and get our state back on track. Our party must build a solid infrastructure, with reliable data, proactive candidate recruitment, and grassroots engagement with the many communities that make up Florida’s diverse electorate, to create the environment to succeed at the ballot box for multiple cycles to come.

I know these campaigns are grueling, I know this work is tough and I am so grateful for all you’ve done to organize your communities over the years. I know this is not glamorous work and I want you all to have a partner and a Chair who will invest in your work and our communities to build a Florida Democratic Party that can and will win. 

Political success is built brick by brick and will not take place overnight, but I’m prepared to work with all of you to create an organization that is smart, aggressive, inclusive, accountable, and above all else, ready to win. 

In the coming weeks, I hope to connect with all of you. My goal is to listen, share my vision for leading our party and earn your support.I’m asking all Democrats who believe that we can turn Florida blue -and in doing so fundamentally improve the lives of all Floridians- to join me in this effort.

Yours in service,

Manny Diaz

For more info, please read: https://floridapolitics.com/archives/386667-broad-coalition-of-democratic-powerhouses-endorse-manny-diaz-for-fdp-chair

Environment Caucus leader Janelle Christensen wants to lead Florida Democrats

Jannelle Christensen

Jacob Ogles, FlaPolitics.com, Dec 3, 2020

A Democratic leader behind an effort to run candidates in every Florida legislative district this year wants to run the state party. Janelle Christensen, President of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, announced Thursday she’s running for Florida Democratic Party Chair.

“It’s clear with the losing record under the current leadership and management of the Florida Democratic Party that something has to change.” said Christensen in a direct affront to current Chair Terrie Rizzo and Executive Director Juan Peñalosa.

Christensen said she wants the party focused on assisting campaigns at all levels, not a surprising take since she worked closely with about 50 House and Senate candidates generally considered long-shots running in red districts.

“I was shocked to see that the mission of the FDP is not to help candidates when that is explicitly the mission of the Florida GOP. We need to bring everyone on board under a clear mission and vision so everyone understands that the point of our organization is to get Democrats elected across the state, not just in a smattering of safe places.”

There’s strong discussion within Democratic circles in Florida about the future of the party after a cycle widely considered a disaster for the blue team. Two Democratic Congresswomen — Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala — lost reelection in November. So did state Sen. Jose Javier Rodrigues and state Reps. Delores Hogan Johnson, Cindy Polo and Jennifer Webb, as Republicans also flipped two open House seats red that had been held by Democrats.

That has led to consternation about messaging for the party statewide, but Christensen also has quibbles about strategy. She was especially bothered that the party didn’t make widely available a database of voter information. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in July intervened to make sure all Democrats had access, but many complained even then the arrangement came with strings.

The party also suffered major criticism under Rizzo’s watch for applying for and initially accepting a Paycheck Protection Program grant intended to help businesses struck by the pandemic. The money was returned, but only after Florida Politics reported on the award, and Democratic candidates statewide faced criticism on the trail for the party’s actions.

“With every decision, our primary focus needs to be centered on whether or not it’s helping Democrats win their races,” Christensen said.

At least in Southwest Florida, where Christensen is based, she’s already seeing support from other Democrats seeking better organization in red areas of the state.

“Dr. Christensen is exactly what the Florida Dems need right now — someone who has a track record of lifting up Democrats across the state and a commitment to the work needed to energize our base and win hearts and minds,” said Cindy Banyai, who ran for an open congressional seat this year against Republican Byron Donalds.

She also wants to change the management structure for the state party to improve understanding of caucus roles.

Christensen’s entry comes a couple days after former Miami-Dade Mayor Manny Diaz announced he was running.  Christensen in banking on a hunger for change.

“I am tired of handing over power to the Republicans without a fight. It’s time to get back to the Obama-era strategy of fighting everywhere,” she said. “The backroom deals to keep districts safe needs to end. Democrats will never win some of these more challenging seats without support and experience and this is what the party needs to be investing in, not just the already blue areas.”

From https://www.environmentalcaucus.com/caucus-officers/?uid=janelle-christensen :  My husband, two young kids and I live in Fort Myers, Florida, but I have contacts throughout the state as I also helped form Florida Candidates for Science during the 2018 campaign. 

From Politico.com:  Former Democratic National Committee member Nikki Barnes has declared her candidacy for chair of the Florida Democratic Party. Hailing from Wakulla County just outside of Florida’s capital in the northern part of the state, she said the state party needs a reboot.

“All the money that’s been invested into Florida over the last 20+ years for Democratic candidates has not changed our results,” Barnes said in a text message Monday night. “Democrats are nearly powerless and facing irrelevancy in the state. It’s time for a fresh perspective, a new vision, and new leadership.”

Barnes, 39, has long worked in Florida Democratic politics, and has been a member of the DNC for nearly four years.

Nikki Barnes Twitter feed is at https://twitter.com/demnikkibarnes?lang=en

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 17, 2020

Contact: [email protected], 612.990.7399

Over 20 Current and Former State Legislators Endorse Manny Diaz for Florida Democratic Party Chair

Group includes current and former House and Senate leaders from North, Central and South Florida

MIAMI — Today, a group of over 20 current and former state legislators, including several legislators who currently hold countywide office, endorsed Manny Diaz for FDP Chair. The group of legislators includes leaders from across Florida, as well as current and former House and Senate leadership who are supporting Manny because of his commitment to doing the work year-round to organize and build coalitions that will help Democrats win back critical legislative seats across the state. 

The group of current and former legislators includes: Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer, Senators Lori Berman and Bobby Powell, State Representatives Kristen Arrington, Robin Bartleman, James Bush III, Joe Casello, Kevin Chambliss, Michael Gottlieb, Michael Greico, Omari Hardy, Dianne Hart, Christine Hunschofsky, Anika Omphroy, Felicia Robinson, Emily Slosberg, Marie Woodson,  former Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner and former State Representatives Joyce Cusack, Mia Jones, and Cindy Lerner, as well as Miami-Dade County Commissioner and former House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee, Palm Beach County Tax Collector and former State Rep. Ann Gannon and Orange County Tax Collector and former State Rep. Scott Randolph. 

“Florida Democrats work around the clock for our constituents and to improve the lives of Florida families, and we need to make the investments, start the work now to ensure we elect more Democrats in Tallahassee and local offices across this state who will fight for the people, which means strong leadership at the Florida Democratic Party to steer this ship — that’s Manny Diaz.” said State Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer of Ft. Lauderdale. “Manny not only has a record of getting things done, he has decades of experience in political campaigns, organizing and leadership that we need to rebuild, strengthen and energize the Florida Democratic Party.” 

“I am supporting Manny Diaz to be the next FDP chair because he understands the work that needs to be done for us to elect Democrats and protect and uplift our communities. Manny will be focused, strategic and do the collaborative work year-round to win elections across the state,” said former Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa. “Elections have consequences and what so many families in our communities are experiencing right now – losing loved ones, losing jobs are the consequences. I’m excited about the potential of the Florida Democratic Party under Manny’s leadership, he’s a proven leader that understands and values the role that African-Americans play in the Democratic Party and is committed to ensuring his leadership team, party outreach and resource decisions will reflect that.”

“It’s an honor to have the support of this incredible group of elected leaders who are working day in and day out for the people of Florida,” said Manny Diaz. “These elected leaders know the importance of electing Democrats to work and fight alongside them in Tallahassee. From making sure Floridians have access to affordable, quality healthcare to investing in our kids and our schools to defeating this pandemic that has devastated communities across this state, Florida Democrats are doing the work to build a better Florida, but we need to start the work now to elect more Democrats who will put Florida families first. We cannot make the progress we need until we elect more Democrats in local, state and federal offices and that’s why I’m running to be the next FDP chair — I believe in Florida Democrats and want to rebuild this party and set us up for victory for years to come.” 

###

Florida Democrats –

As we near the end of the DEC reorganization process, I want to update you on our campaign and share more about my vision and the work ahead. Let me first say, thank you to those of you who have made the time to talk or send me thoughts, ideas, and feedback. These calls have been energizing and I am encouraged and impressed by the experience and excitement you bring to this endeavor. The support for our campaign is growing daily. To those of you who I have not connected with yet, I hope we can talk very soon. As I said on day one, together we can get this done.

I believe this starts with a 67-county strategy that focuses on reaching voters across the state while being very mindful of regional issues and the constantly changing demographics in counties and regions across the state. We have to work and think strategically and ensure our local DECs have the support they need. Only then can we push the margins of victory throughout the state.

We must build a strong party infrastructure, fighting on important issues so we can define ourselves before our opponents do, and set the stage to win elections. It is that simple. We must build, fight, and win. Of course, in order to build a strong party infrastructure, we need members at every level to feel invested and have a sense of ownership of the party. We need to make sure that our programs operate in partnership with our DECs and elected leaders and not as a parallel structure- a more decentralized, bottom-up approach. Our statewide success depends on the success of our DECs, caucuses, clubs and elected officials. We will rebuild by listening and learning from you and by assessing best practices from partner DECs and state parties across the country. We will not shy away from hard conversations.

Year-Round, Statewide Infrastructure

This statewide strategy requires hiring internal staff to sustain year-round training, organizing, voter registration, messaging, persuasion and mobilization operations. To facilitate this, we cannot confine our office operations to one location. We must have a presence throughout Florida. In addition to offices in North and South Florida, I will open a Central Florida office as the first step in my vision of having regional organizational hubs throughout the state. In my plan, each region will be led by a team of high-performing organizers who are dedicated to supporting DECs in enhancing their capacity to build, fight and win. They will work with the DECs in their region toward shared core competencies and being accountable to specific, measurable goals. We will be aggressive in doing the work to win. We can’t afford to leave anybody behind. We are one state, one party; our successes and failures are interconnected and will be shared. When we lose, poor and working people suffer, black communities suffer, Hispanic and Asian, LGBTQ+ and other communities suffer, our environment suffers. We can’t afford to fail.

Data & Efficient Use of Resources

We need to have smart, efficient use of each dollar, our time and every volunteer’s time. Core to that is improving our VAN data. Our outputs are only as good as our inputs. Misguided polls, inaccurate modeling, and unreliable data breeds inefficiency. So we have to explore new systems and information sources that improve the accuracy of the data we use for targeting, messaging and strategic resource decisions. I will ensure that all candidates who meet achievable data-driven benchmarks, have access to VAN so they can run successful campaigns, and that your DECs have the organizational training and tools needed to build strong internal coordination and external outreach programs for your polylithic communities and circumstances.

Showing Up & Message Discipline

Just as important as building party infrastructure is defining ourselves and what and who we are fighting for. When we do not, we allow Republicans to fill that void with lies and fear-mongering. We cannot shy away from issues that are core to our party values like raising the minimum wage or expanding Medicaid. We need to find those opportunities at the state and local level and prove ourselves to be champions for poor and working people. We also need to work closely with our local and statewide elected leaders to ensure we are all on the same message. This includes our candidates. We need to educate and train them on how to take action, debate, and push back. We can’t just message to ourselves. We have to be out in the community with messages that resonate with individualized voters. Our shared and specialized messages must be heard in paid, earned and social media (especially through local, diverse outlets). We cannot fight misinformation if we are not part of the conversation or sharing our message in the places our voters receive information.

Vote By Mail

This year we did great work in making vote by mail a priority, and I will continue to invest in these efforts, in addition to building a voter registration program that will engage and allow us to mobilize more voters across the state. One of the most impressive tools in every one of our local DEC’s is the extraordinary programs that each county has built which enabled Florida to not only be ready for the unprecedented vote by mail surge of 2020, but to meet the new challenges of record-breaking VBM requests, VBM returns, and finally, a cure process dominated by Democrats. This feat would have been impossible if our DEC’s had not been steadily building successful VBM campaigns for the last several years.

Candidate Recruitment & Municipal Victory

Our successes and failures at the bottom of the ticket are just as important as those at the top of the ticket. Democratic officials in local offices are closest to the people, have the ability to make decisions felt by residents immediately, and can be some of our most visible champions. With that in mind, we must continue building on the success of our Municipal Victory Program where we begin to build a bench and have candidates primed for higher office. Effective candidate recruitment support in partnership with legislative leadership and outside partners will be key to our success.

Redistricting

We must also be ready for redistricting at the state and local levels that will have significant implications for our ability to compete for the next 10 years. In 1980, I led and was joined by Common Cause, Urban League, NAACP, League of Women Voters, SALAD and others in our successful effort to adopt single-member districts statewide. I also am proud of the work I did as chair of the Fair District Campaign in 2010, as well as the redistricting challenges of 2014 when Florida Democrats won five new Congressional seats. Both of these efforts resulted in more elected Democrats and more seats at the table for Black, Hispanic and other minority groups. I will be using my background and experience to ensure the FDP is prepared for what will likely be one of the most difficult redistricting processes in Florida’s history. We will challenge the Republicans again to draw fair districts, and if they do not live up to our expectations, I am prepared to challenge them in court if necessary.

Fundraising

To accomplish these things and build a considerable amount of infrastructure needed to engage in the above ideas, we will need considerable resources. I will dedicate my time to leveraging my statewide and nationwide to relationships to build trust among donors and get them to buy into what we are trying to accomplish here in Florida. My time as President of the US Conference of Mayors, my philanthropic activities and my work supporting democratic candidates and progressive causes all across the world will be an asset that helps position us for success. Of course, I can’t do it alone. I will prioritize training to enhance our ability to tap into local donors whom can be a great source of funding. This includes large donors in addition to small-dollar donors. We have to cultivate our small donor program with an eye toward sustainability. We can not afford to fundraise year to year, cycle to cycle, and start from square one. Additionally, outside groups spend millions of dollars in parallel, uncoordinated efforts in part because they have not historically trusted FDP to do the real work of organizing and mobilizing voters with a year-round infrastructure that doesn’t pop up just before an election. Doing the work of making structural changes I’ve outlined and showing data- and people-driven results will be critical to getting the buy-in of these groups and significantly increasing resources to the party.

Diversity & Inclusion

As I’ve committed to many of you in our phone conversations, my leadership will be guided by a north star of diversity and inclusion. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is one of the very best and hardest working groups FDP has to offer. In their very first few months, the committee presented a plan to bring diversity to our hiring practices, vendor engagement and overall Party structure. We should continue to build on this foundation and acknowledge historical deficiencies we’ve had, as a party, in black and brown inclusion at the highest levels.

My Executive Director search, leadership team, staff and resources decisions will acknowledge the value, contribution and loyalty of black and brown communities to the Democratic Party. I will also ensure that other underrepresented communities inside and outside the party have a seat at the table and that our clubs and caucuses, whom represent many of these communities, are supported to do the constituency work that brings power to their voices.

FDP Operations & Governance

There is a great deal of hard work ahead. Turning Florida around won’t be done in one or two cycles but we can set on a path that will, in the long run, win power for poor and working people.

I understand that part of getting us on that path includes looking within and getting our own house in order.

I am committed to expanding access within the FDP by increasing the numbers and diversity of people with a meaningful seat at the table and will propose changes to our policies, procedures and bylaws that make that a reality. We must perform a top to bottom review of all policies, procedures, rules, bylaws, staffing, budgeting and other processes with an eye toward equity, transparency and creating a new and better state party.

There will be no room in my administration for status quo. My focus will be squarely on what and who has a proven track record and what will result in electoral wins for candidates and for poor and working people in this state. If it doesn’t get us to a win, I will not devote time to it.

An issue of importance to me that has distracted this party for way too long is the weighted vote. It is clear to me decades ago our predecessors created a system of voting to further their personal interest versus the interest of the party. In so doing, the power was vested in the hands of a few. The resulting manner in which we conduct business at the State Executive Committee has reduced morale and limited meaningful involvement in key party decisions.

This issue is not personal, it is structural. We are a big tent party and I am committed to working with all of you to find a new vote structure that better reflects a more inclusive process on how we conduct our business. To that end, I will work with a Rules and Bylaws Chair who will help develop a plan and bring it to the committee for a vote within my first hundred days as chair. Many of you have already made interesting suggestions. For example, some have recommended a 435-member committee (there is no magic or requirement to have a 1,000+ member committee) with no less than two members per county, allocated using the equal proportion system used by Congress and the DNC, where each person has one vote. Considering the formula used by our highest legislative body and the DNC seems prudent and responsible. Others have suggested granting additional votes to DEC Chairs and elected officials, adding more state committeemen and women or, in keeping with the goals of our Municipal Victory Program, consider granting votes to local elected in cities and counties that meet a certain population threshold. One thing I know for sure, our diversity will generate a plethora of diverse ideas and suggestions. I can think of no reason why we should not be open to change.

We have within our capacity, the ability to leverage technology to ensure maximum participation and avoid proxy and building capacity/cost concerns that are associated with a larger committee. There will be no perfect plan. As President Obama frequently reminds us, perfection is the enemy of good. I am committed to exploring any and all proposals with anyone willing to work with me. The truth is, we need to resolve our structural issues so we can all focus on winning elections, together. In doing so, we will have encouraged greater participation and ensured people have a real stake in the work we do as a party. I am confident that, as people of goodwill, we are capable, in a spirit of cooperation and party unity, to work together and put this issue behind us.

Ultimately, our deliberative process must be governed by two fundamental guiding principles- how do our actions improve people’s lives and how can we help elect more Democrats. A more inclusive and diverse membership will further these principles by creating a house united not a house divided.

Another issue of importance to me is further ensuring that the FDP is free from discrimination, any and all forms of harassment or a hostile work environment. As such, I will establish formal training and procedures for the handling of discrimination or harassment complaints that are prompt, thorough, impartial, and free from any form of retaliation or reprisal. The hiring of a Human Resources Director would serve to assist me in these efforts.

Support the Vision

Today, and in years to come, the eyes of the world are on us. Let’s move with all deliberate speed to turn Florida Blue. Let’s show the world that we are proud to be a part of this vibrant party. That is the future you must help me build, the legacy we must leave for future generations.

I ask you to join me in this vision,

I ask for your vote.

-In Unity,

Manny

P.S. Yesterday, you should have received a survey from my team. I’d love to have your input on the vision I’ve laid out here and other suggestions you may have.

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