TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – The Democratic party of Florida is in free fall after party chair Manny Diaz resigned Monday. The abrupt resignation comes just two months after the midterm elections where Florida Democrats lost by record numbers.
Manny Diaz’s lengthy resignation letter offered an inside look into the downfall of the Democratic Party in Florida and how the 2022 election cycle left the party with no statewide elected democrats and a super minority in the legislature. Diaz stated, “the 2022 cycle was the final nail in the coffin.”
Republicans saw major gains in the midterm election in Florida contrasting with the rest of the country where Democrats won key races.
Gov. Ron DeSantis beat his opponent Charlie Crist by nearly 20 points. When asked about Florida’s Democratic Party chairs resignation at a press conference in Bonita Springs Tuesday, Gov. DeSantis said, “there ain’t as many Democrats around as there used to be. We had something to do with that in November 2022. It’s the first time in 150 years there’s not a single democrat in statewide office in the state of Florida.”
The landslide victory from the governor has Democratic Party officials like Hillsborough County Democratic Party Chair Lone Townsend urging for change Tuesday saying, “There are systemic problems within the Democratic Party… in Hillsborough, we sort of separated ourselves from the Florida Democratic Party because it did seem to be on rocky ground.” adding, “I think we were all surprised because I think we all thought that Mr. Diaz had dug in his heels and intended to serve out his four year term.”
While the departure was unexpected, the issues in the party were not, Sean Foreman a political science professor at Barry University said.
“The problems are numerous for the Florida democratic party and they’ve been mounting for decades,” he said. “Florida Democrats have been wrestling with what direction to take, just like national Democrats. Do they want a more centrist, moderate approach or do they want a more progressive left-leaning approach? I think the voters in Democratic primaries are really looking for more progressive candidates and messages. But party elites keep picking these moderates, who they think will help appeal to the middle and it’s not working. They have to look at the past failures and think about what’s a better path moving forward. And perhaps it is for the Florida Democratic Party to really turn to the left and become truly progressive in order to mobilize those types of voters in Florida because they seem to have lost the moderates to the Republican party right now.”
Moving forward, Townsend is hoping for a shift in messaging.
“We need to do a better job of defining who we are and we need to do a better job of letting voters know what Democrats have done for voters,” Townsend said.
Foreman said, “They have to figure out who their new leaders are going to be before they figure out their strategy and messaging moving forward.”
Numerous potential contenders threw their hats in the ring just hours after the resignation was announced late Monday night. Democratic Party officials haven’t given specifics on what comes next, but party bylaws require a meeting within the next 30 days to elect a temporary chair.
The Florida Democratic Party’s executive and central committees are slated to meet later this month in Maitland, Fla., near Orlando.