Florida Democratic Party

The Florida Democratic Party is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the U.S. state of Florida, headquartered in Tallahassee. Former Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried is the current chair.

Florida Democratic Party
ChairpersonNikki Fried
Senate Minority LeaderLauren Book
House Minority LeaderFentrice Driskell
Founded1834; 190 years ago (1834)
Headquarters201 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Student wingFlorida College Democrats
Youth wingFlorida Young Democrats
Women's wingDemocratic Women's Club of Florida
Membership (2023)Decrease 4,460,831[1]
IdeologyModern liberalism
National affiliationDemocratic Party
Colors    Indigo blue, red
12 / 40
House of Representatives
36 / 120
Statewide Executive Offices
0 / 6
U.S. Senate
0 / 2
U.S. House of Representatives
8 / 28

Andrew Jackson, the first territorial governor of Florida in 1821, co-founded the Democratic Party. After Florida achieved statehood, the party dominated state politics until the 1950s, after which Florida became a swing state through the 2010s.

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Florida Democrats have prioritized advocating Medicaid expansion in the state, a policy that would provide a federally subsidized health insurance plan to approximately one million Floridians.

Following the 2022 elections, Florida is now considered a red state, with the Florida Republican Party holding supermajorities in both chambers of the Florida Legislature. The Florida Democratic Party holds neither of the state's U.S. Senate seats, and no statewide executive offices.

History edit

Andrew Jackson was the first Territorial Governor of Florida in 1821.

The Florida Democratic Party has historically dominated Florida's state and local politics. Andrew Jackson, the first territorial governor of Florida in 1821, co-founded the Democratic Party. As Florida moved from territory to statehood status, the Florida Democratic Party emerged from the locofocos.[2] John Milton led the party, and became governor of the state, during the Civil War era.[3]

There were no Republican governors from 1877 until 1967, when Claude R. Kirk, a Republican from Jacksonville, was sworn in as governor of Florida.

Florida politics was largely dominated by the Democrats until Richard Nixon's Southern strategy, which took advantage of objections to the advances of the Civil Rights Movement which resulted in a regional political realignment for the South. After Nixon's victory in 1968, the state voted Democratic in only four presidential elections: 1976 (Jimmy Carter), 1996 (Bill Clinton), 2008 (Barack Obama), and 2012 (Barack Obama). The presidential election in 2000 was decided by a margin of 537 votes out of approximately six million cast in the state, earning George W. Bush the presidency over Al Gore.

The Florida Senate was dominated by Democrats until 1992, when a majority of Republicans was elected. The Florida House of Representatives turned Republican after the November 1996 election. The Florida Legislature became the first legislature in any of the states of the former Confederacy to come under complete Republican control when the Republicans gained control of the House and Senate in the 1996 election.

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Florida Democrats have prioritized advocating Medicaid expansion in the state, a policy that would provide a federally subsidized healthcare plan to approximately one million Floridians.[4][5]

Governance edit

The current chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party is former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who succeeded former Mayor of Miami Manny Diaz Sr. on February 25, 2023.

List of chairs edit

  • Scott Maddox (2003–2005): Maddox, the former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, served as chairman of the Florida Democratic Party from 2003 to 2006, leaving the post to run for governor. The Associated Press noted that while Democrats suffered electoral defeats during his tenure, party activists recognized he had built up the party's infrastructure and volunteer base."[6]
  • Karen Thurman (2005–2010): Thurman, a former five-term member of Congress from Florida's 5th District, served from 2005 to 2010. She was elected chairman of the Florida Democratic Party in 2005, succeeding Scott Maddox, who resigned in order to seek the Democratic nomination for governor. Thurman resigned on November 12, 2010, following the midterm elections.[7]
  • Rod Smith (2010–2013): In November 2010, Smith was elected chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, succeeding Karen Thurman who resigned on November 12, 2010, following the midterm elections.[8] Smith, a former Alachua County state prosecutor and state senator from the 14th district, became chair following his unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor in 2010.[9] Smith's term expired in January 2013, when he was succeeded by Allison Tant.[10]
  • Allison Tant (2014–2016): In December 2013, former lobbyist, philanthropist, and Democratic fundraiser[11] Allison Tant announced she would seek the chairmanship of the Florida Democratic Party.[12] She was elected in January 2014, after a closely contested race against Hillsborough state committeeman Alan Clendenin.[10] After large national losses in 2014, Debbie Wasserman Schultz commissioned the Victory Task Force to "take a deep dive" to figure out what went wrong in 2014.[13] Similarly, Chair Tant created the state-level LEAD Task Force, to learn the lessons of the statewide Democratic defeat.[13]
  • Stephen Bittel (2016–2017): Bittel, who founded Terranova in 1980, is still an active Democrat in the state.[14] He was chosen primarily for his fundraising ability after the 2016 election, but many critics noted his ability to curry influence with his immense wealth.[15] In November 2017, he was accused of inappropriate office behavior, and subsequently left his role.
  • Terrie Rizzo (2017–2021): In December 2017, Rizzo was elected to replace Stephen Bittel, defeating Stacey Patel in an 830–291 vote.[16][17] During Rizzo's term as chair and as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the party focused on developing web products[18][19][20][21] and established a department for social media marketing.[22]
  • Manny Diaz (2021–2023), In January 2021, Diaz was elected with 54% from party leaders to replace Terrie Rizzo. Diaz was elected partly to bring outreach from the Cuban-American community, which was a voting bloc that helped Donald Trump win the state in the 2020 presidential election.[23] Diaz resigned after the 2022 midterms, which saw landslide victories and legislative supermajorities for Republicans in Florida.[24]
  • Nikki Fried (2023–present), On February 25, 2023, Fried was elected with 52% of the vote to fill the chair's vacancy after Diaz's resignation, defeating former state senator Annette Taddeo, Broward County Democratic Party chair Rick Hoye, and activist Carolina Ampudia.[25] Fried was elected after a primary defeat in the 2022 Florida gubernatorial election the previous year.

House leaders edit

Organization edit

The State Executive Committee of the Florida Democratic Party is organized into six standing committees. Standing committees include: the Rules Committee, the Judicial Council, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Committee on Clubs, Organizations, and Caucuses, the Legislative Liaison Committee, and the Campaign Committee.[26]

Platform edit

The Florida Democratic Party has adopted a platform that covers a wide range of topics and issues under the following headings:[27]
  • Access to Healthcare
  • An Economy That Works for Everyone
  • Quality Education
  • Protecting our Environment
  • Immigration Reform
  • Preventing Gun Violence
  • Civil Rights
  • Government Accountability
  • Protecting Voting Rights
  • Women and Families

Current elected officials edit

The following is a list of Democratic statewide, federal, and legislative officeholders as of October 23, 2018:

Members of Congress edit

U.S. Senate edit

  • None

Both of Florida's U.S. Senate seats have been held by Republicans since 2019. Bill Nelson was the last Democrat to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate. First elected in 2000, Nelson lost his bid for a fourth term in 2018 to Republican governor Rick Scott.

U.S. House of Representatives edit

Out of the 28 seats Florida is apportioned in the U.S. House of Representatives, 8 are held by Democrats:

District Member Photo
9th Darren Soto
10th Maxwell Frost
14th Kathy Castor
20th Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick
22nd Lois Frankel
23rd Jared Moskowitz
24th Frederica Wilson
25th Debbie Wasserman Schultz

State edit

Statewide officials edit

  • None

Florida has not elected a Democrat in a state-wide elected office since November 6, 2018, when Nikki Fried defeated Republican Matt Caldwell in 2018 and was elected Florida's 12th Commissioner of Agriculture. While eligible to run for a second term, she instead chose to step down and mounted a challenge against Governor Ron DeSantis, in his own re-election for Governor of Florida. DeSantis would go on to retain his Governorship by historic margins.

State legislative leaders edit

State Senate edit

Democrats hold a 12-seat minority in the 40-member Florida Senate.

State House edit

Democrats hold a 36-seat minority in the 120-seat Florida House of Representatives.

Mayoral offices edit

Some of the state's major cities have Democratic mayors. As of 2023, Democrats control the mayor's offices in six of Florida's ten largest cities:

Former Florida governors and U.S. senators edit

Governors edit

Photo Former governors of Florida
  Buddy MacKay
  Lawton Chiles
  Wayne Mixson
  Bob Graham
  Reubin Askew
  W. Haydon Burns
  C. Farris Bryant
  LeRoy Collins
  Daniel McCarty
  Fuller Warren
  Miller Caldwell
  Spessard Holland
  Fred Cone
  David Sholtz
  Doyle Carlton
  John Martin
  Cary Hardee
  Park Trammell
  Albert Gilchrist
  Napoleon Broward
  William Jennings
  William Bloxham
  Henry Mitchell
  Francis Fleming
  Edward Perry
  William Bloxham
  George Drew
  Abraham Allison
  John Milton
  Madison Perry
  James Broome
  William Moseley

United States senators edit

Photo Former U.S. senators from Florida
  Bill Nelson
  Bob Graham
  Lawton Chiles
  Richard Stone
  George Smathers
  Spessard Holland
  Charles Andrews
  Scott Loftin
  Claude Pepper
  William Luther Hill
  Park Trammell
  Nathan Bryan
  James Taliaferro
  Duncan Fletcher
  William Milton
  William James Bryan
  Samuel Pasco
  Charles Jones
  Stephen Mallory II
  Wilkinson Call
  Stephen Mallory
James Westcott
  David Levy Yulee

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Voter Registration—By Party Affiliation". Florida Department of State. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  2. ^ Willis, Lee (August 31, 2018). Southern Prohibition: Race, Reform, and Public Life in Middle Florida, 1821-1920. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820341415 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Weinfeld, Daniel R. (March 19, 2012). The Jackson County War: Reconstruction and Resistance in Post–Civil War Florida. University of Alabama Press. ISBN 9780817317454 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Kinsey, Troy. "State Democrats Again Call for Medicaid Expansion in Florida". Spectrum News. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  5. ^ Gross, Samantha. "Florida argues Medicaid expansion hurts state. Experts say right now, it could help". Miami Herald. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  6. ^ "Jacksonville.com: Maddox to step down as Florida Democratic Party chair 3/16/05". jacksonville.com. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  7. ^ "Karen Thurman retires as Florida Democratic chairwoman". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "Florida Democratic Chair Karen Thurman's resignation letter". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "Local attorney Rod Smith elected to head state Democratic Party". Gainesville.com. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Allison Tant elected chairwoman of Florida Democratic Party". Tampa Bay Times. January 26, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  11. ^ "Power Couples". Tallahassee Magazine. March–April 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Former lobbyist Allison Tant joins race to lead Florida Democratic Party". Tampa Bay Times. December 9, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Democrats seek fixes for voter disapproval". Sun-Sentinel.com. January 2, 2015. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  14. ^ "Home - Terranova". Terranova.
  15. ^ "Wealthy Donor Redefines Pay-to-Play, Buys Himself Top Dem Position". observer. December 21, 2016. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  16. ^ "Our Leadership".
  17. ^ "Rizzo elected Florida Democratic Party chairman, replacing Bittel". Politico.
  18. ^ "Note From Chair Rizzo". Florida Democratic Party. December 4, 2020.
  19. ^ "Florida Democratic Party Rolls Out Game Changing Technology". Florida Democratic Party. September 16, 2019.
  20. ^ Kam, Dara. "Florida Democrats try to rally support through virtual convention". Orlando Weekly.
  21. ^ Ogles, Jacob (August 31, 2020). "Florida Democrats relaunch website with focus on voter organization". Florida Politics.
  22. ^ Alter, Charlotte (August 6, 2020). "Inside the Democrats' Plan to Win Back the Internet". Time.
  23. ^ "Florida Democrats elect former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz as state leader". January 9, 2021.
  24. ^ Perry, Mitch (January 9, 2023). "Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz resigns". Florida Phoenix. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  25. ^ Greenwood, Max (February 25, 2023). "Nikki Fried to lead Florida Democrats as party chair". The Hill. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  26. ^ "The Charter & Bylaws of the Florida Democratic Party" (PDF). Florida Democratic Party Official Website. June 9, 2019. p. 15. Retrieved August 26, 2019 – via Florida Democratic Party.
  27. ^ "Values".

External links edit