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Florida Democratic Party head resigns after midterm rout

By Sarah May
|
January 10, 2023

In the wake of a statewide Republican wave in the midterm elections, Florida Democratic Party chair Manny Diaz announced his resignation on Monday, as The Hill reports.

Not content to exit quietly, however, Diaz also issued a scathing assessment of where the party currently stands in the Sunshine State. one in which he outlined a series of internal woes he believes rendered the organization “practically irrelevant” to the process of helping Democrats win in November.

Diaz departs

In announcing his departure from the top spot in the Florida Democratic Party, Diaz penned a lengthy dispatch to colleagues and party members in which he said, “After much reflection, I regret to inform you that I have chosen to retire as FDP Chair, effective immediately.”

The statement continued, with Diaz declaring, “It has been a pleasure and honor to work with you, and, rest assured, I will continue to fight with you to get Democrats elected.”

After getting those pleasantries out of the way, however, Diaz articulated a series of ways in which he claims that the party apparatus had been seriously handicapped in the most recent cycle, including financing difficulties, an unfocused digital messaging approach, and troubles with internal coordination he said were all evidence of a “broken, unsustainable system.”

“We cannot win elections if we continue to rely on voter registration to drive turnout, build field operations only around elections, and expect to get our vote out without engaging voters where they live,” the now-former chair contended.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Diaz further claimed, “During my tenure, I hoped to address these issues. Instead, I found obstacles to securing the resources and a long-standing, and systemic and deeply entrenched culture resistant to change; one where individual agendas are more important than team; where self-interest dominates, and bureaucracies focus on self-preservation.”

Dems' Florida collapse

As the Times emphasized, Diaz departure did not come as a surprise, but it puts a fine point on the disastrous recent history of the party apparatus in Florida.

The November midterms saw Democrats go down to defeat in every statewide contest, something that has not happened since the late 1800s.

Compounding the problem for the organization is the fact that Republicans now account for a larger portion of the state's registered voters for the first time in the history of the state.

The Democratic Party's problems in Florida were underscored in dramatic fashion by the fact that Gov. Ron DeSantis, who barely squeaked out a victory in his 2018 contest against Andrew Gillum, achieved a 19-point landslide victory against Charlie Crist in the fall, a feat that brought him enhanced national attention.

Reactions pour in

After news of Diaz's resignation began to break, prominent Democrats across Florida registered an array of reactions.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) opined, “I like Manny. But you can't lose by 19 points and get to stay to talk about it,” as the Washington Examiner noted.

Former state Rep. Sean Shaw observed on Twitter, “I don't care about the ideology of the next Chair...I care about their ability to register voters and run the actual operation of @FlaDems competently. Everything else comes after that.”

Next steps mulled

The Florida Democratic Party is poised to elect a new slate of leaders later this month at a meeting of its executive and central committees, as the Times notes.

According to Politico, Diaz had originally signaled his intention to remain in office and serve the final two years of his term, but once a cadre of far-left and moderate Democrats floated the possibility of a no confidence vote at the aforementioned meeting, he reversed course.

The outlet added that an obvious front runner to succeed Diaz has yet to emerge, and former Agriculture Commissioner and frequent DeSantis critic Nikki Fried has already said she did not want the role.

Currently in the mix for the chairmanship, however, are former state Sen. Annette Taddeo and progressive Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, but precisely who will ultimately take the reins and attempt to address the growing list of hurdles facing Democrats in Florida, only time will tell.