While there has been plenty of discouraging news this week, the news from Broward Democrats has been very positive. Tuesday’s meeting of the county Democratic Executive Committee could have turned into a “bitch session” on what went wrong in the election, but instead we heard about many things that went right in Broward — and need to be replicated across the state.
Cynthia Bush, a grassroots activists who became de facto head of the local party during the time that Chairman Mitch Caesar was running for Clerk of the Court (and continued to head GOTV operations after he returned to his post), is likely to become chair in the upcoming Dec. 3 party organizational meeting where Caesar will not be seeking reelection. She explained how hard Broward Democrats pushed for an effective GOTV effort, often filling in crucial gaps like chasing down absentee ballots that the Clinton campaign and the state party weren’t focusing on.
As a result, Broward outperformed all expectations, both for Clinton and for Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. “That needs to be replicated if we’re going to win seats, if we’re going to hold seats in 2018,” she said. That means other counties around the state need to adopt the same, activist philosophy. In other words, because Democratic turnout operations were weak in other parts of the state, we were not successful in countering strong turnout for Trump in rural Florida or regions such as Tampa.
Broward needs to have its own organization and structures, informed by local knowledge, she said. “I don’t think we should ever be sitting back and waiting for a campaign to tell us what needs to be done.”
State Committeeman Ken Evans, who is running for reelection and pushing for new leadership at the state party level, gave a similar account at a brainstorming meeting he held on Thursday. The state party has been too narrowly focused on fundraising, and only fundraising to the exclusion of grassroots activism, he said. As chair of a committee dedicated to organizing clubs and caucuses, he found there was way too little focus on giving those organizations productive work to do, he said.
“We need to have operations that never stop,” he said.
With leaders like these, I am more optimistic that will become a reality.