Future of Florida Democratic Party at Stake
Candidate for Congress John Russell with DNC Chair Dean, Summer 2006
Karen Thurman is the current Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party. Al Cardenas is the former Chairman of the Florida Republican Party and a major player in Republican politics in Florida. Al pays Karen $3,500 a month to lobby Democrats in Washington in behalf of Miami-Dade County.
Ms. Thurman gets $100,000 a year for the full time position of party chair. Apparently she’s giving 242% since the Cardenas contract and another extracurricular endeavor earn her an extra $142,000 beyond the cool $100,000 she gets from the Democrats.
The St. Petersburg Times quoted Rep. Dan Gelber, (D-Miami Beach) as saying: "Everybody in political life navigates the ironies of relationships and friendships. It's ironic, but it's not improper." This was typical of the tolerance shown by others in the Florida Democratic establishment to this apparent conflict.
It could have been more ironic. The other firm representing Miami-Dade in Washington is Greenberg Taurig of Miami where convicted felon and former Republican operative Jack Abramoff served as a partner.
Democratic fundraising efforts compared to Republicans in 2007
Citizen John Russell’s Major Problem with Florida Party Leadership
Former Democratic Congressional candidate John Russell has major concerns with Karen Thurman, Florida’s Democratic Committee Chairperson. The concerns focus on his party’s leadership and the larger issue of the non competitive nature of Florida Democrats.
Russell maintains that the Florida Democratic hierarchy shows a “… lack of focus and loyalty to what is supposed to be a shared cause, electing Democrats.” Russell points out that organized get out the vote (GOTV) and absentee ballot initiatives have been few and far between for years. Yet he recalls that in his 2006 Congressional campaign, “Chairperson Thurman promised my campaign a GOTV effort in my district of no less than four mailers. It never happened!” In the same campaign, Thurman’s son received contributions of $15,000 from the Florida Democratic Party for a state representative race.
Not Much Help for Fighting Florida Democrats from State Party
The only Democratic Congressional challengers well funded by the state party in 2006 were: Christine Jennings, Charlie Stuart, Phyllis Busansky, Ron Klein, and Republican turned Democrat Tim Mahoney (running against Foley in the 16th). Klein and Mahoney were the only party supported candidate to win. The rest received little to nothing. These Democratic Congressional candidates were largely or entirely neglected by the Florida Democratic Party: Dr. Bob Bowman, (Lt. Col, Ret) (15th), David Bruderly (6th), Clint Curtis (24th), Frank Gonzalez (21st), Samm Simpson (10th) and Russell (5th). However, four of the six did receive money from the progressive National Committee for an Effective Congress. Each of these candidates fought hard campaigns with little support and went down in defeat.