Florida Democrats are in panic mode, slamming their own party’s performance in a new report and agonizing over 2024 prospects in the state after a series of lopsided defeats.
State legislatures and Democratic operatives have warned that the Democratic Party has no concrete plans to win future elections in Florida and must work quickly to build a program that brings residents into the voting booth.
“There is no plan. There’s nothing. It’s just a state of suspended animation and chaos — and, more than anything, it’s the mournful regret and acceptance that Florida has been cast aside for the long, foreseeable future,” Florida Democratic operative Fernand Amandi told The Washington Post.
Amandi added that Florida Democrats sink deeper into “new abysses” every year in the state, falsely believing each time that they have hit “rock bottom.”
In November, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won re-election by 19 points over Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, and in the process flipped the once heavily blue Miami-Dade County. The GOP also secured a supermajority in the Florida legislature, and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio cruised to re-election by more than 16 points. Such lopsided victories seemed unthinkable a decade ago, as President Barack Obama carried the state twice.
Former Democratic congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said a lack of substantial investment from Democratic donors helped propel DeSantis into the national spotlight and has given him “a clear path” to make a case for himself as a viable 2024 presidential candidate. Mucarsel-Powell also predicted a long road to recovery for Democrats and said it will be difficult to rebuild trust in the party.
John Morgan, a Florida lawyer and major Democratic candidate, similarly criticized the Party, noting there is a lack of Democrats with money or motivations in the state.
Manny Diaz, the former Miami mayor who two years ago pledged to revive Florida’s Democratic Party as he took over as chair, quit last Monday as calls for his ouster grew louder.
In his resignation letter, Diaz blamed the 2022 shellacking on a lack of funding, volunteers, messaging, and a program to engage with voters and bring them to the ballot box. He added that Democrats would be unable to win future elections if they continue to rely singularly on voter registration to drive turnout and build field operations focused solely on elections.
“Florida reminds me of the Monty Python ‘Dead, Not Dead’ skit,” former Florida Democratic Party executive director Juan Peñalosa told Post reporters Sabrina Rodriguez and Michael Scherer. “The state is expensive and complicated to campaign in, but with 30 electoral votes and a population that lines up well with the makeup of the Democratic coalition, Democrats can’t afford to bury it.”
DeSantis’ success in November was helped by Miami-Dade County in South Florida, which moved from blue to red. The city has a high Latino and Hispanic population, particularly Cuban Americans, and Democrats had been repeatedly warned about a slow shift in the county’s population voting Republican over the last several years.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Fla., said Democrats need to “go back to basics” and focus on building a coalition of more people knocking on doors and trying to engage with communities in the county and the state. She also criticized the Party’s lack of political infrastructure in the area and has since started a voter registration and engagement operation.
Democrats’ prospects in the state for the next election cycle are not promising, with The Democratic National Committee (DNC) leaving the state off a list of likely 2024 battleground states that received extra investments in 2022.
Former President Trump carried Florida in 2020 by a larger margin than he did in 2016, but he lost the overall election. It marked the first time since 1992 that Florida had voted for the losing candidate in the White House race.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.