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Florida Democratic Party Continues to Alienate Progressives, Risking Entire Ticket

July 2, 2018 - 8:30am
Alex Sink and Alan Clendenin
Alex Sink and Alan Clendenin

The Florida Democratic Party is going all-in on marginalization of its progressive wing, risking its only statewide officeholder, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, any chance of recapturing the governorship, and pickup opportunities in the Florida Legislature.

Ramifications of what are known in state Democratic circles as “the corporatist agenda” can easily filter down to the courthouse.

Progressives are roiling in several counties including Broward, Duval, Orange, and Hillsborough. All are populous, all have significant communities of progressive Democrats and left-leaning NPAs, all are vital to keeping Nelson in the Senate and being competitive in the other four statewide races, including the governorship.

In Duval, the county executive committee is feuding with progressives over how the county votes and is represented on the state executive committee.

Ill feelings in Broward still revolve around the divisive Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova, her erstwhile opponent for Congress.

Canova lost to Wasserman Schultz two years ago in the Democratic primary. This year he is running as an independent with a slew of Democrats defecting to support his campaign. Vote counting and the ballot trail were issues in 2014.

Two congressional battles in Orange-Osceola pit progressive challengers Chardo Richardson and Alan Grayson against a pair of incumbents, Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy, who are perceived to be too far right and corporatist.

In Hillsborough and statewide, there are racist overtones in the Democratic schism.  Democratic National Committee member Alan Clendenin has attacked the party’s only black gubernatorial candidate, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and the PAC of black businesspeople who support him.

Clendenin called The Collective Super PAC a “Republican front,” a patent falsehood that was interpreted to mean that black candidates and contributors cannot function within the same parameters as white Democratic candidates. The Collective, like nearly every other political action committee, does not list its individual donors.

Gillum is the only non-millionaire running on the Democratic side and is not self-funding like primary opponents Chris King, Jeff Greene, and Philip Levine.

The PAC’s television ads criticize Gwen Graham for supporting the Republican agenda on 50 percent of her votes during her one term as a congressional backbencher. Graham’s father, former Sen. Bob Graham, sits on the board of the Poynter Foundation, parent of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Times has jumped all over Gillum, describing his campaign with half truths, innuendo, and racist imagery.

Gillum had made headway in the campaign with the most recent poll from Gravis Marketing showing him in the lead. The winner will face either Congressman Ron DeSantis or Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

Elsewhere in Hillsborough, former state CFO Alex Sink fancies herself a queenmaker despite losing two straight elections to political novices. With the help of State Committee Chair Terrie Rizzo, Sink forced Bob Buesing, a popular progressive, out of the race to challenge state Sen. Dana Young.

Progressives are furious at Sink and her cronies, with many promising to withhold their votes from Sink’s choice, Janet Cruz, the career corporatist politico who was termed out of her Florida House seat. An attempt to unify progressives behind Cruz failed miserably.

Hillsborough Democrats have other problems. A proposed citizens petition for referendum promoted by the development community is circulating. If 49,000 valid signatures are submitted by July 27, a 1 percent sales tax increase will appear on the November ballot.

The sales tax is being peddled under the guise of a transportation initiative, but it is designed to mitigate development impact fees  and to save a $3 billion downtown project that is behind schedule and underwater.

Victims of the regressive sales tax would be low-income families, many people of color, and retirees on fixed incomes. The local Democratic Party and its candidates for public office have remained silent on the issue.

Tampa’s black community is fuming and threatening to disengage from the Democratic Party if it doesn’t oppose the regressive tax, which would make Hillsborough, along with tiny Liberty County, sport the highest sales tax in Florida.

As in Broward County, the impartiality and competence of the local elections supervisor have come into question. Craig Latimer, the supervisor and a Democrat, declared he will not allow independent observers to be present during the validation process or the counting of ballots in November, should it come to that.

With four months until the general election, time is running out for Florida Democrats.

Jim Bleyer, a former reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, writes the Tampa Bay Beat blog.


Gillum will get the Dem gov. nomination because every black Dem voter will check his box, while the other (all white) guys will divide the rest of the pie (not enough in a red state). But Gillum’s plank is what, more public housing and Medicaid? And that benefits an already obscenely subsidized healthcare industry that should be forced to care for the poor without another cent of taxpayer funding. Housing is a loser issue too. Nobody wants that near their private homes, anywhere.

you have the party of cash and the party of less cash. Cash always wins, until people get tired of being screwed and lied to in the same breath. If you think things have gotten progressively better with wages, deficits, inflation, insurance, anything really, keep voting the same way. When you finally realize we have been getting screwed, choose something different, the future of this country will eventually depend on it...

It's interesting: in our area, we have a campaign where 2 out of the 3 candidates in both parties are millionaries. From voters I have talked to, they have said they are skeptical that the rich can really understand their economic pain (and I think that is a legitimate concern/point). However, both sides give platitudes to it, and it has given the more populist candidate room to see their campaign grow. For what it's worth, the economic populist message resonates with many voters in my circles and neighborhood because they are SO. DAMN. BROKE. If you've read the stats, it's BAD for people: stagnant wages, combined with lack of faith in government, and the rising cost of, well, EVERYTHING are breaking people down. Hence, if you're a politician that is walking the walk and talking the talk on these issues, I think you have a good chance to win.

If you want a progressive government, then support Democratic Party candidates. If you want a progressive government, don't attack the Democratic Party candidates you don't like. Nothing good comes from division of the Democratic Party. We end up with a regressive, oppressive and alienating conservative government. We must do better than that. We have a two-party system. It requires a big tent approach on both sides. You have the choice of which party best reflects your values and interest. The time to make that choice is fast approaching.

No, cuz corporate Dems are no better than the gop! There just republicans with a D in front of their name! DCCC candidates take dark money and have superpacs and A ratings with the NRA, they've literally cost the Dems 1000s of seats over the last decade! If one side of the Dem party is gna act like the gop then it's the Progressives duty and RIGHT to fight them! Their NOT working for the people they're working for special interests and lining their pockets! If corporate Dems get elected we might as well have voted for Republicans! Progressives donations are strictly grassroots so they're not beholding to ANYONE except the people! If we keep electing corporate owned politicians well NEVER get big corps out of Washington! Do you really think big oil, big pharma represents you? SO NO we don't need ANY corporate owned reps Dem or gop in Washington! It's time we take our country and our Democracy back from special interests and that'll never happen if we don't fight and vote out greedy candidates and representatives!

That's how we ended up where we are. Never settle for the lesser evil. Bad is bad whether they have a D or an R after their name. Supporting Dems that aren't progressive will NOT get us a progressive government. Screw the Democrats. They are as bad as the Republicans.

I have watched the corporatist Dems oppose anything like FDR’s agenda (explaining with corporatist cash dripping out of their every pocket) that there is no support for any such agenda (while those of us progressives) who see Senator Sanders, toted around for a victory lap by national Dems ((while the not just ignore but sabotage)) anyone outside their country club *patronage* circuit! They insure not cash goes to progressives then cry crocodile tears, saying - “see you can’t raise any money!” boo hoo! How many progs have to be actively opposed till we progs get the message. The party is monstrously corrupt, bought and sold and will tolerate no agenda that isn’t coated in corporate cashlined agenda! Wait let’s DEBDEB - how much more corruption the party can tolerate under her and her flying monkeys. But Gillum and Grayson (no matter how popular) stand a chance against her money-chute candidates! Whistle on passed another election corporate Dems- the public caught on a decade ago when even with a magnifying glass and tweezers they could barely spot any daylight between the moneyed corporate interests. Like Big Chuckie said just the other day - we’re wasting time opposing THE DUMPFSTER!

Please wake me when Gillum polls more than single digits in a legitimate poll. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The Democrat Socialist agenda is sinking faster than Ted Kennedy's Oldsmobile.

Please help save the great country we grew up in! Vote Red or America is Dead! Why do all Democrats want to destroy the Greatest Country in the history of man?

America fucking sucks man. Land of the free my ass. We lock up almost half our population and we have right wing lunitics running around thinking America is "winning"

CORPORATISTS? You think THEY are the problem? Ha! Where do you think they get Money to run Very Expensive ads? The Dumbocrats are NOT for "the people"... they are out to Continue the "Socialist" movement. These Commies (Led by George Soros and the "Deep State") are simply working towards ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT!

You people are nuts. See a shrink.

You are highly misinformed. Learn the difference between socialism and communism before you spew your dumbass opinion

The only difference is the level of violence used, and the Commies are working past that. Who’s the dumbass now? Ahahahahahahahahaha!

Democrats have ALWAYS been given all the ammunition they might need... AND, what do they do with it?!?!.... CONSISTENTLY "shoot themselves in the foot"!!!!!!!!! ("Sink has already sunk" [Look at her face... doesn't it look like someone just mentioned Debbie Wasername Schultze to her?; "Nepotistic Gwennie" has proven her 'uselessness" over & over again; Looks like Gillum has a bigger chance than any "political prognosticator" ever thought... (Don't blow it Andy..!)

Agreed. Gillum all the way. What a change that would be from skeletor.

OUT with the corporatists! Power to the people!

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