Florida Democratic Party

The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the U.S. state of Florida, headquartered in Tallahassee. Former Mayor of Miami Manny Diaz Sr. is the current chair.

Florida Democratic Party
ChairpersonManny A. Diaz
Senate Minority LeaderLauren Book
House Minority LeaderBobby DuBose
Evan Jenne
Founded1834; 187 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 (2021)Decrease5,267,864[1]
Modern liberalism
Political positionCenter to center-left
National affiliationDemocratic Party
Colors    Capri, Prussian Blue
16 / 40
House of Representatives
42 / 120
Statewide Executive Offices
1 / 6
U.S. Senate
0 / 2
U.S. House of Representatives
10 / 27
Official Website

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 1960s, after which Florida became a swing state.

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.


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 FDP 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 white 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]


The current chairman of the FDP is former Mayor of Miami Manny Diaz Sr., who succeeded Terrie Rizzo on January 9, 2021.[6]

List of chairsEdit

  • Scott Maddox (2003–2005): Maddox, the former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, served as FDP Chairman 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."[7]
  • 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 FDP 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.[8]
  • Rod Smith (2010–2013): In November 2010, Smith was elected chairman of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP), succeeding Karen Thurman who resigned on November 12, 2010 following the midterm elections.[9] 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.[10] Smith's term expired in January 2013, when he was succeeded by Allison Tant.[11]
  • Allison Tant (2014–2016): In December 2013, former lobbyist, philanthropist, and Democratic fundraiser[12] Allison Tant announced she would seek the chairmanship of the FDP.[13] She was elected in January 2014, after a closely contested race against Hillsborough state committeeman Alan Clendenin.[11] 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.[14] Similarly, Chair Tant created the state-level LEAD Task Force, to learn the lessons of the statewide Democratic defeat.[14]
  • Stephen Bittel (2016–2017): Bittel, who founded Terranova in 1980, is still an active Democrat in the state.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17][18]
  • Manny Diaz (2021–present), 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.[19]

House leadersEdit


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.[20]


The Florida Democratic Party has adopted a platform that covers a wide range of topics and issues under the following headings:[21]
  • 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 officialsEdit

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

Members of CongressEdit

U.S. SenateEdit

  • 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 RepresentativesEdit

Out of the 27 seats Florida is apportioned in the U.S. House of Representatives, 10 are held by Democrats:


Statewide officialsEdit

Democrats control one of the four elected statewide offices:

State legislative leadersEdit

State SenateEdit

Democrats hold a 16-seat minority in the 40-member Florida Senate:

State HouseEdit

Democrats hold a 47-seat minority in the 120-seat Florida House of Representatives:

Mayoral officesEdit

Some of the state's major cities have Democratic mayors. As of 2019, Democrats control the mayor's offices in five of Florida's ten largest cities:

Former Florida governors and U.S. senatorsEdit


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 senatorsEdit

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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Voter Registration—By Party Affiliation". Florida Department of State. Retrieved June 4, 2021.
  2. ^ Willis, Lee (31 August 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. (19 March 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 23 January 2021.
  5. ^ Gross, Samantha. "Florida argues Medicaid expansion hurts state. Experts say right now, it could help". Miami Herald. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  6. ^ Powers, Scott (January 10, 2021). "Democrats elect Manny Diaz as new party chairman".
  7. ^ "Jacksonville.com: Maddox to step down as Florida Democratic Party chair 3/16/05". jacksonville.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  8. ^ "Karen Thurman retires as Florida Democratic chairwoman". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  9. ^ "Florida Democratic Chair Karen Thurman's resignation letter". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  10. ^ "Local attorney Rod Smith elected to head state Democratic Party". Gainesville.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  11. ^ a b "Allison Tant elected chairwoman of Florida Democratic Party". Tampa Bay Times. 2013-01-26. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  12. ^ "Power Couples - Tallahassee Magazine - March-April 2012". www.tallahasseemagazine.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  13. ^ "Former lobbyist Allison Tant joins race to lead Florida Democratic Party". Tampa Bay Times. 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  14. ^ a b Sun-Sentinel, South Florida. "Democrats seek fixes for voter disapproval". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  15. ^ "Home - Terranova". Terranova.
  16. ^ "Wealthy Donor Redefines Pay-to-Play, Buys Himself Top Dem Position". observer. 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  17. ^ "Our Leadership".
  18. ^ "Rizzo elected Florida Democratic Party chairman, replacing Bittel".
  19. ^ https://www.wptv.com/news/state/miami-dade/florida-democrats-elect-former-miami-mayor-manny-diaz-as-state-leader
  20. ^ "The Charter & Bylaws of the Florida Democratic Party" (PDF). Florida Democratic Party Official Website. 2019-06-09. p. 15. Retrieved 26 August 2019 – via https://www.floridadems.org/our-party/party-affairs.
  21. ^ "Values".

External linksEdit