Speak On It: A Call for Social Action (Part 1 in a series)

Rising Star Seeks to Lead Florida Democratic Party

[Repost from Vanessa: Unplugged!]

Andrew-Gillum The 2010 General Election is over and the beat down taken by the Democratic Party is well documented. Since that debacle, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP), Karen Thurman, resigned – as many Party leaders wanted. Her replacement, if left to traditional Party leadership, will be Rod Smith. You know Smith from other political bids, his latest as running mate for Alex Sink who was beat out by political newcomer Rick Scott in the race for Governor.

Enter one Andrew Gillum, 31 year-old Commissioner in Tallahassee. Tall, handsome, intelligent, articulate and charismatic. Oh and don’t let his youth fool you, he has been involved in politics for much of his life. Gillum, who I met when he was student government president at Florida A&M, has stepped up to challenge Smith to lead the Florida Dems. He may be just the new blood the Democratic Party needs, if not, the 2012 elections may be tantamount to Slaughter Round Two.

Here is Gillum’s  announcement of his candidacy:

Fellow Democrats,

In order to win, the Florida Democratic Party needs a fresh start.

Our previous losses were not due to a lack of work ethic. I know because I was on the ground with you, fighting, raising money and knocking on doors. We lost because we failed to communicate a clear, concise reason to vote with us locally and statewide.

Somewhere along the way we forgot why we were fighting.

When I was growing up, my mother Frances held down two jobs. She was a school bus driver and in-between her morning and afternoon shift she worked at a local dry cleaners, pressing and washing other people’s clothes. It was her battle with unfair labor treatment, and the support of her local union, that taught me the value of organized labor, and the power of everyday Floridians working together to take care of one another.

My father was a construction worker, his face and hands weathered by long and rough days working on construction sites in Florida. His decades of hard work meant nothing when he fell ill, because his blue-collar employers refused to provide him healthcare. That’s what inspired me to fix our broken healthcare system, insisting on real reform.

These are the types of Floridians that lose their voice when we lose elections.

When you cast your vote for the next Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, you face a tough choice. And it should be tough. Millions of Floridians like my mother and my father depend on having an aggressive, viable opposition party in Tallahassee and a party that will protect Democratic wins and gain members in the US Congress and US Senate.

The choice you make in January is not about who wants to elect Democrats the most, it’s about the entire future of our party in 2012 and beyond.

My entire adult life has been dedicated to building the bench of our party and raising money for candidates who fight for everyday Floridians. When I won my first election nearly eight years ago, I became the youngest City Commissioner in Tallahassee history. Since then, I have organized statewide, and I’ve raised more than $6 million in support of progressive officials and college leaders around the country.

I’ll bring this same energy to our party, which faces numerous challenges.

First, we cannot afford another disastrous redistricting by the right-wing Tallahassee Legislature. If it weren’t for gerrymandering after the 2000 elections, our outgoing Chair Karen Thurman would still be in Congress fighting for economic recovery, healthcare reform, and jobs.
If given a chance to lead, I have the confidence and competence to execute a winning plan for our party that will once again make us a competitive force in Florida politics.

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 want to be your voice.

One of the most important considerations for the Florida Democratic Party right now, unfortunately, is perception. That’s why we need an entirely new voice. As a young, energetic elected Democrat, I will help deliver our fresh message to Floridians.

In order to bring about the fresh start we need to win, I’m asking for your vote.

It goes without saying that the FDP has some damage control to do to maintain the loyalty of many black voters who felt slighted and taken for granted during the 2010 mid-term elections, especially in South Florida. There is rising dissatisfaction with the Republicans and the Democrats but the Dems have the most to lose and if the FDP leaders continue to be out-of-step with Florida voters, the Democratic bloodletting will continue.

Related Links:

Rising Star Andrew Gillum, 31, Enters Race for Florida Democratic Chair

Andrew Gillum in challenge for Florida Democratic Party chairman post

Tony Hill: State Democrats need "fresh blood"




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