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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

When DECs Get It Right

Most of my life, I've had a pretty negative opinion of DECs. The image I had -- based on some evidence, but probably not enough -- was that they were simply a collection of entrenched good old boys who cared more about their own fiefdom than actually winning elections or changing society for the better. The more I get involved in politics, the less accurate I find this stereotype to be. For example, I've recently joined the Leon County DEC because I really, really like what they've been doing. A lot of people are contributing to the success of the Leon Democrats, but as people from commissioners John Dailey and Andrew Gillum to Congressman Allen Boyd to Senator Barack Obama has publicly said, the key to the great things happening in Tallahassee is Chair Rick Minor. Here's what is going on under his supervision:

1. 2006 elections were a rousing success in Tallahassee. If I remember correctly, no Republican defeated any Democrat in local elections. Most of the statewide elections were significantly more in favor of the Democratic candidate than the Republican.

2. Barack Obama appeared at the annual Collins-Steele fundraiser. Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but Obama only appeared at two fund-raising events in Florida -- Tallahassee and Miami. Miami is much more of a swing district has a lot more donors for presidential campaigns and has a lot more voters. And yet we got Obama too. And he helped Leon Dems raise a whole heck of a lot of money -- Enough money to impress even Ray Seaman. ;)

3. The DEC is pursing policy proposals. Instead of passively waiting for things to happen, the Leon Dems are actively seeking to push the local policy agenda. After a campaign finance scandal with a county commissioner, the DEC has stepped up to push for non-partisan lobbying reform. In addition to pursuing an actual policy proposal with the help of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, we also spent the last meeting with a diverse panel of speakers who not only gave us the run-down on the issue, but answered the exhaustive questions of the large audience. It would be difficult for anyone who attended that meeting to not have a good grip on the issue.

4. The Takin' It to the Streets program is a great idea. What is happening is that each month at the DEC meeting, instead of having the meeting at the same old stuffy city commission chamber, the meetings are rotating to different locations in each district. This not only benefits those people who don't want to drive across town every month, it has brought out tons of new people to each meeting, the last of which was standing room only (in my district).

5. Rick is great at community outreach. My theory is that no public event in a county should go without a Democratic Party presence. I don't go to every event out there, but I couldn't tell you the last time I went to something in the community when our DEC chair wasn't present and actively talking to people to promote our agenda and learn what the people are saying and thinking.

6. We're also trying to improve outreach to African-Americans in the community by focusing on No Party Affiliation voters. Leon County is like a lot of the state where African-American turnout in elections is lower than we would like it to be. By reaching out to the NPA voters and letting them know about Florida's closed primary rules, we have a chance to change that.

And all of this is just in the three months I've been actively participating in the organization. I hear talk of numerous other things that I don't even know enough about to get into. The point is that this is exactly the type of activity I think a DEC should be engaged in and the activity and excitement you see around here is impressive. A lot of that has to do with Rick Minor.

Like I said before, Minor didn't do any of this alone, but that's one of the keys to why he (and we) have had so much success lately -- he recognizes others, regardless of race, gender, age or personality, who want to help and can help and he gives them the trust and responsibility to succeed and they, and he, do succeed. That helps all of us.

1 comment:

gatordem said...

Rick Minor is a star shining brightly in the Florida Democratic Party galaxy. If he could be cloned 66 times so that we would have all our county chairs as effective as Rick, the DECs in Florida would be the envy of the nation.