On Monday I attended my first meeting with my local DEC (Democratic Executive Committee) and the speaker for the evening was State Senator Dave Aronberg. He has a plan to help Turn Florida Blue.
First, here's a bit of biographical information on Senator Aronberg:
- Born in Miami and raised in South Florida where he attended public schools
- Attended Harvard for college, then Harvard Law School, where he graduated with honors in 1996.
- Assistant Attorney General, Economic Crimes Division, 2001-2002, 1999-2000
- Special Assistant to the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, 2001-2002
- White House Fellow during the Clinton and Bush administrations, 2000-2001
That's not even the impressive part, check this out:
Elected to the Florida Senate in November 2002, Senator Aronberg represents a challenging, diverse district that stretches from eastern Palm Beach County through Glades, Hendry and Charlotte Counties all the way to Lee County on Florida's gulf coast. Even though Democrats comprise only 39% of his district, Dave was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2004 with 79% of the vote.
I think a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at this gerrymandered district:
Senator Aronberg joked at the meeting that if a Democrat with a last name like his who's an attorney can win in a Republican district like this one, then we should be able to win everywhere.
Which gets us to his plan for Turning Florida Blue.
Senator Aronberg is the chair of an organization called Florida Mainstream Democrats. It is comprised of centrist elected officials throughout the state of Florida.
Now, I know the word "centrist" isn't the most popular here at Daily Kos, but here's a few things to keep in mind. In order to take advantage of the rules in the Florida Legislature your party needs to make up a third of the elected body. We just got a third thanks to the November elections. For the last eight years under Jeb Bush, the Democrats were such a minority that we could simply be ignored.
As Senator Aronberg said at the meeting, if Rudy Giuliani can be pro-choice, support gay rights and still be considered a Republican, then the Democratic Party in Florida can make room for people who we may not agree with on everything either and do so without giving up our core values.
The goal is not unlike the national level, get solid majority first then worry about getting rid of a few bad seeds - your Liebermans.
The Florida Mainstream Democrats organization describes its approach to acheiving its goals as follows:
(a) Rebuilding the Democratic party infrastructure in rural counties with large numbers of Democrats who continue to vote Republican. We have already succeeded in restarting the county parties in Glades, Madison, Baker and Suwannee counties and have been approached by Democrats in other rural areas to do the same in their counties.
(b) Recruiting and supporting candidates who are electable in swing
legislative seats. Our organization will be concentrating its resources in only a few races, rather than spreading our funds indiscriminately
throughout the state.
It's not exactly a 67 County strategy, like Howard Dean's 50 State strategy, but its a start and it was nice to hear that someone in the Florida Democratic Party is trying to do something.
I haven't made up my mind about this organization, but I think the topic is worthy of discussion.
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