The Chair of the Florida Democratic Party needs to be responsive to the deep-rooted failures that have threaded through cycle after cycle. Here are some of the issues that Ione Townsend is focusing on.
SYSTEMIC AND HABITUAL UNDERPERFORMANCE
In the aftermath of the 2018 election, we were told exactly what we need to do to prepare for 2020 by the Path to Power Commission Report.
Hillsborough County did well, but our grassroots organizing strength, our transparency with regards to resource allocation and our effective, honest and accountable DEC leadership locally was not mirrored across the state. We need new ideas and new leaders in the FDP.
However, the current leadership structure commissioned the report and promptly failed to change course, insisting again on repeating the same mistakes of the last four cycles. In 2018, we experienced similar losses and a failure to coordinate between the coordinated campaigns, House and Senate Victory, and the state-wide campaigns.
It is time to end the cycle of failure and non-accountability that has become a hallmark of the FDP.
FDP BUDGET AND PPP DEBACLE
The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) has failed to account for its financial activities in the current cycle. Whether by incompetence or design, these failures make structural change and transparency more important than ever. The fact that there is not a 2020 budget available to party chairs as well as repeated compliance issues further erodes trust in the party structure.
We deserved a road map in late 2019 as to how the FDP was going to operate in an election year. We deserve to know what terms were agreed with respect to service providers, including consultants, and have a proper accounting of funds for which leadership owes a fiduciary duty.
The fact that no-one has been held to account about the decision to apply for and accept Paycheck Protection Program funds - despite plain language in the statute clearly stating political parties are ineligible - is unacceptable, period. Individuals responsible for these irregularities cannot continue to hold leadership positions within the FDP.
FDP UNDEMOCRATIC WEIGHTED VOTING AND OUTDATED ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
Adapting the article that was written 4 years ago and remains relevant:
The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) operates under essentially the same set of rules and a party structure developed in 1976. Setting aside Nikki Fried winning the open seat as Florida Commissioner of Agriculture after a recount and Bill Nelson winning as an incumbent eight years ago, our losses in every single statewide election (!) in the last four 2-year cycles (!) must serve as a wake-up call that we cannot continue to operate this way and remain relevant as a party. We need to face the reality that what worked in 1976 no longer works in 2020.
It is past time to implement reforms to make the FDP more inclusive and effective, and this begins with how we select our leaders. FDP leadership is currently chosen by State Executive Committee members using a weighted vote system that gives individuals more or less votes depending on the county they represent or the office they hold. This weighted vote system has been ruled to be in violation of Democratic National Committee (DNC) bylaws, which require that each person have one vote.
It is not a matter of if, but how, our leadership selection process is changed. We must reform the system in ways that are simple, that comply with DNC rules, and that will strengthen the party at all levels. We need new leadership and new by-laws, and we need them now.