OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has annihilated the Democrat Party in his state and they know it. And interviews with top Democrats in the state reveal the party is in disarray, sans a leader and no plan for the future, the Washington Post reported.
The governor defeated his opponent, Charlie Crist, in a landslide that saw him carry Miami-Dade County, which a Republican had not done in two decades and Republicans achieved a supermajority in the state legislature which means the Party can pass any laws it wants to.
“Now, as Democrats look to 2024, there are few early signs that Florida will be a top priority for President Biden, who has said he intends to run for reelection. A Biden adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a strategy, said decisions about whether a reelection campaign would invest in Florida would be based in part on the Republican nominee. Some Democrats see little hope of contesting Florida’s 30 electoral votes — only Texas and California are allotted more — in 2024 if DeSantis is the nominee, while there’s a greater opportunity if former president Donald Trump wins the GOP nod,” the report said.
“The thing about Florida Democrats is we keep learning with every passing year that just when you thought you had hit bottom, you discover that there are new abysses to fall deeper and deeper into,” veteran Florida Democrat operative Fernand Amandi said. “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.”
It is unclear to many Florida Democrats whether they will be able to field a competitive U.S. Senate nominee next year for the seat currently held by Sen. Rick Scott (R); the last time they won a Senate race in the state was 2012. There are currently no Democratic statewide officeholders — a first since Reconstruction.
More immediately, they face the question of who will helm the state party after the recent resignation of Manny Diaz, the embattled chairman who faced mounting calls to step down. There is no immediate front-runner for the position, Democrats said, and the Democratic National Committee has no preference for next chair yet, according to a person familiar with the deliberations, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private considerations.
“There are really no Democrats in Florida who have money or are motivated,” attorney and Democrat donor John Morgan said.
Democrat National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison argued that the Party is going to invest in all 50 states.
“Last cycle, the DNC doubled down on our 50-state strategy with historic midterm investments and we remain firmly committed to that approach — including in Florida,” he said. “We are already laying the groundwork for additional resources headed into 2024.”
“Florida reminds me of the Monty Python ‘Dead, Not Dead’ skit. Yes, 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,” former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party Juan Peñalosa said.
But Florida is also home to DeSantis, a likely 2024 hopeful who takes shots at the president whenever the opportunity arises. So despite their dim prospects in the state, Democrats had an enormous incentive to engage there this year — if only to try to blunt the governor’s rise ahead of a presidential bid.
“If you were to ask me, does Florida give you as good a return on investment as other places? Clearly right now it does not,” Chris Korge, the Democratic National Committee Finance Director, said. “We got our butts kicked in Florida recently. Our butts kicked.”
“I think the White House absolutely thinks we need to be engaged there now rather than waiting until 2024 when it becomes more expensive to stop [DeSantis],” he said. “We are going to be engaged in the midterm and, you can quote me on this, the DNC is absolutely not giving up on Florida.”