Who will we elect to lead the Florida Democratic Party?

With thanks to Roxy Moore & Politico Florida Playbook , we offer the following synopsis of the 5 candidates.  Also see https://www.floridadems.org/our-party/fdp-chair-candidates/

Please advise Dr. Lucy Huke Garner and Tom Garner of your prefered leader at lucyhuykegarner@gmail.com  and tomgarner1@gmail.com before Feb 25th, when this election will take place.

Feb 17th update:  Alex Berrios, one of the candidates running for Florida Democratic Party chair, has dropped out of the race and endorsed former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Democrats are scheduled to meet next week in central Florida to vote on who will succeed Manny Diaz after Diaz abruptly resigned after Florida Democrats were crushed during the midterms. The departure of Berrios leaves four candidates, including former state Sen. Annette Taddeo.

Nikki Fried, the last Democrat to win a statewide election in Florida, has jumped into the crowded contest to lead the Florida Democratic Party.

The state’s former agriculture commissioner announced her decision in a late Sunday afternoon call with nearly 60 Democrats who can vote in the race for a new party chair. It’s a bit of a turnabout for Fried, who had said late last year that she was not interested in the post as Florida Democrats grew frustrated over their crushing defeat in the midterms.

“My decision is not one made lightly,” Fried said in a statement shared with Playbook. “It comes after months of listening to friends, advisors and Democrats across the state. Florida Democratic Party chair was not the path I had originally envisioned for myself, but too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines — from women’s rights, economic opportunity and climate change to affording housing, protecting our democracy and education.”

Democrats are scheduled to meet later this month to designate a new leader after Manny Diaz abruptly resigned as chair in early January following an election that saw Gov. Ron DeSantis win reelection by nearly 20 points and Democrats get routed in legislative and congressional contests.

Fried joins four other candidates (see below)  who have already announced their bids for chair, including former state Sen. Annette Taddeo. Taddeo, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. María Elvira Salazar in November, has already picked up support from many key Democrats, including state legislators and several congressional members, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

But there has been a faction of Democrats — many of them who have votes on the state’s executive committee — who did not support the other candidates, and last week a group of them urged Fried to join the race. Fried supporters now have a list of nearly 40 voting members who are backing her accounting for 350 out of the 578 votes needed to win.

Fried, however, may have to overcome misgivings that some in the progressive community have about her and whether she is too close to some of the state’s corporate interests.

Fried mounted an unsuccessful bid for governor last year where she lost decisively in the Democratic primary to Charlie Crist. In the aftermath of her loss, Fried said she was starting a new political committee called “Won’t Back Down” that planned to help female candidates who supported abortion rights and try to get an abortion rights measure on the 2024 ballot. It’s not clear what will happen to those efforts now.

Whoever wins the eventual contest for chair will have to grapple with a significant fundraising disadvantage as well an ever-growing voter registration gap Republicans are building. When he stepped, down Diaz sharply criticized national Democrats for raising money from Florida donors but then failing to direct that money to help with state operations. He also faulted Democratic legislative campaign organizations for focusing “exclusively” on their candidates and not helping the party.

In her statement, Fried vowed to “rededicate ourselves to voter registration, training and growing our progressive coalitions. I am determined to rebuild the trust of national committees and I will dedicate the full weight of the party to quality candidate recruitment and to reforming our antiquated weighted vote system and bylaws which too often exclude rather than include.”

Alex Berrios

Political consultant Alex Berrios is announcing his candidacy to lead the Florida Democratic Party.

“Florida needs bold leadership with experience, vision and a plan to win. That’s why I’m announcing my candidacy for Chair of the Florida Democrats,” Berrios tweeted. “A changing of the guard can be hard but necessary. New ideas and approaches are what we need.”

Berrios founded Mi Vecino, an organization dedicated to registering voters. He suggested his on-the-ground experience would deliver important change to the state political party.

“I worked hard for years, starting as a local Dem volunteer and ending as Senior Advisor at FDP, where I managed multiple departments,” he posted on Twitter.

“I co-founded the data-driven organization Mi Vecino Florida and raised millions for year-round voter registration and organizing. I’ve been on every side of this equation and know what the job takes. Because of my years of direct experience, I will hit the ground running and not lose one year as other Chairs do when they start from scratch. I’ve stayed involved at the executive level and am ready to get to work for us.”

Annette Tadeo

MIAMI – Former state Senator Annette Tadeo is running to become the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party.

“Our party is at a critical, critical juncture and we must pave a new way forward together. We must completely rebuild and reimagine our party from the bottom up,” she said in a video statement.

Taddeo, who made a brief run for governor before losing a congressional race last year, would replace former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz who resigned earlier this month.

She said she will work to rebuild the party’s grassroots infrastructure and regain a voter registration advantage.

In the last two years, Florida Republican voters outnumbered registered state Democrats for the first time in state history.

Carolina Ampudia

Dr. Ampudia’s goals include broadening the ideology inclusion in the Florida Democratic Party, challenging us to look forward, evolve, invest and boost all voices.

Her plans include ways to keep the party solvent in a participatory, grassroots environment so we can keep our values intact. As an advocate of the little d democracy, Carolina will uplift-boost shared governance, intra-party communications, and membership empowerment to transform the FDP into an organization that serves all Democrats and the community, identifying and uplifting leaders already working on the issues that matter to everyday people, and bringing about change and opportunities for progress for all.

She is the Immediate past President and current Chair of the legislative committee of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida. She has been tracking Florida state legislation since 2018 for her union and local DPCF chapter and since 2019 for the state caucus.  Her experience with the most impoverished workers in the state and the country continues to shape her activism work, and she brings along their perspective and the urgency of their issues.

Further, Carolina Dr. Ampudia has training in leadership development, bargaining for the common good, campaign development, public narrative, parliamentary procedure, and bylaws.

In her political and community role, Dr. Ampudia was president of the Broward PDA chapter, SE Florida Coordinator for PDA, Vice President for People for Democratic Party Reform, a board member in the Democratic Labor Caucus of South Florida, and a member of the steering committee that started the Broward Chapter of DSA.  She currently serves on the advisory board of the Florida Poor People’s Campaign, Labor Community Alliance of South Florida, and other state and national groups.

Rick Hoye

“I feel that I am uniquely qualified to move our party forward after the disappointing losses that Florida Democrats have incurred since President Obama won the state twice,” Hoye said in a written statement.

Key to reversing the party’s downward spiral, Hoye said, is a focus on electing Democrats at the local level. “I believe that the Democrats’ long-term success begins with building a bench to strengthen our party.”

Hoye, the first Black elected chair of the Broward Democratic Party, said Florida Republicans have employed “voter suppression in our Black and brown communities,” and said that’s a reason “why we need a fighter as chair of the Democratic Party.”

“Overpromising is not how I wish to be elected to this position. I am committed to increasing turnout for Democrats statewide in our Black and brown communities and re-engaging with voters in our rural counties that share our Democratic values,” Hoye said.   If elected chair, Hoye said he would work to get Democrats whose vote-by-mail ballot requests have expired re-signed up for local elections this year and the 2024 elections, work with elected officials on a “coordinated effort effort to fund local and statewide voter programs,” develop year-round canvassing and voter registration efforts concentrating on young and minority voters and implementing a “data-driven outreach program that will engage Democratic voters” who haven’t voted in recent years.

Hoye, 43, of Sunrise, is a social studies and American history teacher and has ties to organized labor. He’s a member of the executive board of the Florida State AFL-CIO. He’s a past Broward Democratic Party first vice chair and has served as president of both the Broward Young Democrats and the Greater Sunrise Democratic Club.