In an otherwise positive election night for Democrats, there were two very bleak stories; one coming out of Florida and the other New York. Florida was anticipated, New York not so much. Both disasters, though, seemingly stemmed from the same problems. In an interview printed in this morning’s NYT, Ocasio-Cortez outlined where she thought the problems in New York originated. (Sorry, I can’t link as I still read the Times in print.) After acknowledging the fallout from the Cuomo affair, the usual Democratic messaging issues, and the antipathy of the Democratic establishment towards the party’s leftwing, AOC arrived at the biggest problem, the lack of party organization. Referring to the debacle on Tuesday, here’s what she had to say:
"I don’t feel caught off guard. I don’t feel like my reality has been upended. Others may feel more surprised with this. I feel very clear-eyed about what the path should be ahead. We should rebuild the New York State Democratic Party and if that is a structure that refuses to be reformed, we rebuild and replace.”
Say what you will about her, and I know that she has many detractors here, Ocasio-Cortez has build an organization in NY-14 that does everything a party organization is supposed to do plus she does the things an MC is supposed to do. When a recent disaster hit her district, her staff and volunteers were out in force. She is engaged with her constituents and she knows how to get out the vote. Yes, she’s good at fundraising, but she puts that money to work in her district, not in consultants. BTW, she cruised to victory on Tuesday.
What AOC says about New York applies to Florida in spades. Yes, there’s a problem with messaging in Florida. (Why, in God’s name, would the Democratic gubernatorial candidate focus on abortion and not the myriad problems facing Florida citizens such as out-of-control insurance rates and rents, gun violence, and water issues, and why would you not come to the defense of the state’s largest private employer when it’s being attacked by your opponent?) Fundamentally, though, it’s about turnout and the Florida Democratic Party’s inability to get out the vote. Is the FDP reformable? I don’t know. Some of the county organizations seem more functional than others. However, we need not depend on the party if the party is unable to perform its most basic functions. We have in Florida a mini-version of AOC’s organization in Orange County called People Power for Florida. It is the brainchild of HD-47 representative Anna Eskamani, and it’s propelled her to victory in several elections. On Tuesday she was reelected in a landslide and the turnout in HD-47 was 11% higher than the rest of Orange County.
Let’s be clear, no one is calling for a third party and, unlike AOC, Eskamani has a good rapport with the party establishment. Both though represent alternative paths when the old paths no longer lead to victory.
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