Steve Schale weighs in on what Florida Democrats should do for 2016

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The Florida Democratic Party gathers Saturday night in Hollywood for its annual Leadership Blue Gala.

They’re expected to drop their report on how to pick up the pieces after the major disappointment of the 2014 campaign. The report was written by the party’s LEAD (Leadership Expansion to Advance Democrats) Task Force, and it’s already being panned in some quarters (well, at least by the Tampa Bay Times Adam Smith).

Meanwhile, a major Democratic Party strategist who has nothing to do with the LEAD Task Force, Steve Schale, weighs in on what the party should do in his latest blog post.

Schale ran the Obama/Biden ticket in 2008 and was a senior adviser to the campaign in 2012, as well as being an adviser to the Charlie Crist gubernatorial team last year. He has eight recommendations for Florida Democrats to consider.

His first is to “Drop the pointless ‘left vs. moderate’ debate and build bench with candidates who can win where they run,” which seems pointed at those progressives who had a serious issue with Charlie Crist as the party’s standard bearer for governor, and aren’t happy that the establishment has rallied around U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, who announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate this year.

“In 2006, when we won seven seats plus two more specials, our winning candidates were all over the ideological spectrum, from NRA members on the right to those on the far left of the scale,” Schale writes. “They won not because they fit into a box, but because they had a real relationship to their district — meaning they had some following & ability to raise money, had résumés that sounded like state legislators, and had a world view that fit the community they lived in. Two of my favorite people in Congress, Gwen Graham and Debbie Wasserman Schultz would be unlikely candidates in the other’s districts. But both work where they are. We need to embrace that.”

Other suggestions include having local parties emphasize “meaningful activities, starting with voter registration.”

And he says that Florida Democrats need to stop blaming the state party for all of the problems it has had in not winning more elections over the years.

“The state has 20 million people, 12 million active voters, and 10 media markets including four of the top 10 in the nation for political spending, while combined the GOP & Dem parties probably have 50 full time staff,” he writes. “It’s not their fault it rains on Saturday. Most of the thing the parties get blamed for are actions candidates and potential candidates take on their own accord. “

Intriguingly, he suggests the FDP move out of Tallahassee and move to Orlando. “That is where the state is most dynamic right now. Lay down a marker and start organizing.”

And last but not least, he urges party members to “have fun.”

“You are engaged in the 240-year struggle to keep our democratic republic afloat,” he writes. “That’s a damn cool thing. If you are enjoying it, others will come along.”

You can read the whole post here.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at