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FDP News

Congratulations from Manny Diaz

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Party Leaders,

I want to congratulate all of our statewide candidates — Val Demings, Charlie Crist, Adam Hattersley, Aramis Ayala, and Naomi Blemur, as well as all other Democratic candidates up and down the ballot for their campaigns and the sacrifices they made as candidates for public office.

Once again, I wish to thank the thousands of Florida Democrats who, under very difficult circumstances during this election cycle, never gave up and continued to fight until the polls closed.

Tuesday night was a tough night for Florida. It followed what was a long campaign cycle filled with hard work by you, our party staff, and our coordinated campaign team.

Every election night is different – and this midterm certainly was – but they are all a reminder to us that polls and pundits don’t decide elections, people do.

What was predicted would be a red wave across the country saw Democrats hold their own. Votes are still being counted, and many races are too close to call, but it appears Democrats may hold the Senate and Republicans’ bid to flip the House is not assured. Democrats also won Governorships and down ballot seats that will make a critical difference for working people, women, and communities of color in those states.

But here in Florida, Democrats stayed home.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit with over half our county DECs personally. We’ve talked about our shared commitment to rebuild our party for the long term. I have felt your passion and your excitement, and you always help restore my faith in our future. This week’s election confirmed what many of us have known for a while: we’ve lacked the resources and funding necessary to compete in Florida and we’ve lost ground to Republicans that can’t be made up in a single cycle. We’ve lost 16 of the last 17 statewide elections since 2012 and our party has had five different Chairs in the past 10 years.

The anger Florida Democrats feel right now about DeSantis’ reelection is valid. The damage he’s done turning everything in our state into a culture war and the threat he poses to our freedoms is real. I assure you, I share your concern.

What was also clear this cycle is that the national Democratic organizations made a determination about Florida. Funding and resources that have helped keep our state competitive were zeroed out and redirected elsewhere this cycle. While in the 2018 midterm elections the national organizations invested nearly $60 million to Florida Democratic efforts, in 2022 their investments plummeted to $1.3 million, barely 2% of what we got in 2018.

Although as Democrats we celebrate the wins in other states, we got the message loud and clear. There’s no cavalry coming. We are the cavalry. We didn’t get the result we hoped for or wanted, but with that comes experience. We need to have tough conversations about how we move forward and how each group working together in Florida reorients to this reality. We need to determine why our get out the vote efforts were unsuccessful and how we work together to build the county-by-county infrastructure necessary to compete statewide.

People decide elections. If we want to win in a large and diverse state, we’ve got to have conversations with Floridians in their communities and at their doors. And that will require all of us, across the broad tent our party encompasses, marshaling our resources and working together.

In ballot measures around the country, Americans protected abortion rights, raised the minimum wage, legalized marijuana, and expanded Medicaid. We saw voters flock to Democratic candidates and reject Republican extremism. We saw a groundswell that should make us hopeful for the direction of our country. But there is no magic bullet. We all have to work together and to do the long and hard work needed to bring that excitement and those victories here to Florida in 2024.

I joined you in this mission to reverse the trends of the past 10-20 years. I am still committed to that end and refuse to give up when the going gets tough. That is not in my nature. I will continue to fight alongside you for the next two years and beyond.

Chairman Manny Diaz

Thanks from FDP to our own Renard Biltgen!

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Dear FL Voter Protection Family,
Thank you!
Thank you for your time, your energy, and your care. Thank you for letting us join you in our fight for democracy. Thank you for giving it your all – even though the odds of democrats winning in Florida were so slim. As the adrenaline of the last few days wears off, I have found myself reflecting on what an honor it has been to work for such a dedicated, incredible group of Floridians and Democrats. Thank you for allowing me to serve in this role.
I want to share a bit of what we accomplished together. Florida has the most decentralized, volunteer-based voter protection program in the country. Due to every one of the thousands of those volunteers, we were able to build the largest voter protection program in the country.
In numbers, we credentialed over 5,000 poll watchers across 60 counties. Between Early Vote and Election Day, we had poll watchers protecting voters at priority polling places for 63,546 hours. That’s 7 years, 3 months, and 2 days worth of poll watching. Our hotline fielded 34,908 voters’ questions. And our volunteer lead cure team contacted over 8,000 voters about their curable ballots and ensured that 1,376 democratic voters’ ballots were cured and counted. With this team, we spotted and resolved 4,895 issues from inadequate parking to voter intimidation. While Florida sadly slid more to the right this week, it was not because of your work.
I could not be prouder to have worked with such an incredible group of people. There are a few that I need to give specific praise and appreciation. For over a year, a group of volunteers has worked with me on a nearly daily basis. Anne Daley, Marv Diamond, Mary Beth Gentleman, Barbara Katz, and Tom Klee helped rewrite and restructure every training, handout, and legal document we produced. These were countless hours of hard work. Mary Beth Gentleman, Anne Daley, Judy Koons, Ellen Tetlow, Nancy Broff, and Kim Epstein all spent countless hours training poll watchers, hotline operators, canvassing board observers, and boiler room workers. Kim Epstein, Mary Beth Gentleman, and Erica Abate Recht also helped support SOE Advocacy teams and reached out to SOE offices countless times with inquiries and public record requests to find out vital information for this election. Kim and Erica even came to Orlando to help see us past the finish line. Kim Epstein really dedicated endless time to supporting our team at every turn, almost every day, and with every single type of task. Anne Daley created and led an incredible statewide cure program that helped inform thousands of democrats on how to cure their ballots. Renard Biltgen helped process and evaluate the monthly voter roll to ensure nothing illegal was happening. Pepper Williams created an incredible website to help us schedule poll watchers. This saved us countless hours of work. Ben Rosenthal invented a program that allowed us to match poll watchers to priority polling locations automatically. And then there were the tireless county team leads who showed up to endless meetings, made countless calls, aggressively advocated for voters’ rights, learned new programs, and went along for this crazy ride. None of this would have been possible without you all.
Finally, I need to thank my incredible staff (and now family). Fnan Ysahak ran an incredible hotline team. He was thrown all sorts of curveballs and managed them calmly and professionally. Alfred Bridi (re)joined the voter protection team the last month and a half to bring his experience and expertise to see us through the hardest part. Erin Fowler jumped in without missing a beat. She quickly learned Florida election law, how to navigate the complicated web of Supervisors of Elections, and quickly became one of our team’s greatest assets. And finally, the most essential member of our team, Adam Ginsburg. Adam pushed us all (and certainly me) to be as thoughtful, hardworking, and caring as we could be. Thank you team, I could not have imagined a better group.
One last time (for those who know), please unmute yourselves and give each other a huge round of applause!
With all my gratitude,
Sam Koplewicz
FDP Voter Protection Director

~~Letrecia Brown, Lee County DEC State Committeewoman

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Letrecia (Trish) Brown: triciaspn@gmail.com

 

Mike Bonacolta: mikebonacolta@gmail.com

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