Florida’s Democratic Party chairman resigns, says party ‘resistant to change’

Manny Diaz said Florida party rocked by entrenched culture, bureaucracy

Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz has resigned as chair of the Florida Democratic Party. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Manny Diaz, the former Miami mayor who was in charge of the Democratic Party in Florida, resigned as party chairman Monday in a lengthy letter to party members that exposed shortcomings with building membership and accused the party’s culture as being “resistant to change.”

Diaz, who became state party chairman in 2021, described the problems with the Florida Democratic Party as a three-legged stool: deprived of funds, volunteers, and effective messaging.

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In the letter, Diaz said he had hoped to make changes and create a party infrastructure that didn’t only turn out in election years.

“Instead, I found obstacles to securing the resources and a long-standing, systemic and deeply entrenched culture resistant to change; one where individual agendas are more important than team; where self-interest dominates and bureaucracies focus on self-preservation,” Diaz wrote.

Democrats in Florida had an abysmal November, bucking the rest of the nation — voter turnout collapsed for the party, even in strongholds like Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Gov. Ron DeSantis beat Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by 19 points, Republicans swept statewide races and now hold supermajorities in the Florida Legislature.

The Florida Democratic Party lost more than 300,000 registered voters between the 2020 election and the 2022 election, according to a News 6 analysis of Florida Division of Elections records.

Diaz wrote that the Florida Democratic Party has been starved for funds over the last 20 years as money that would normally go to the party has instead gone to candidate political action committees and nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations that are driving voter turnout but not necessarily registering Democrats.

In 2022, Diaz said the national party only contributed 2% of the amount it invested in 2018.

“It is impossible to build or ‘rebuild’ an organization without resources,” Diaz said. “Huge sums of money continue to be outside the control of the FDP. When reflecting on our disappointments during the past 20 years, one must follow the money. Who received the investments? What was the return on these investments?”

Diaz also said the party was not nurturing talent or building future organizers, but instead feeding a party bureaucracy of paid employees. He also blamed the national party for handing down directives on campaign strategy, messaging and staff hiring without any familiarity of Florida’s needs.

And Diaz said he was frustrated that the state party had a hands-off approach to messaging, and while public opinion was with Democrats on a number of issues, the argument too often became about “labels” and “identity.”

The Florida Democrats have had a revolving door of leadership in the last few years and few of these complaints would be new to political insiders.

While Diaz originally said he would not step down after the November election, calls had grown over the last few months for him to resign, or for the party to get rid of him.

Diaz resigned two years to the day after taking office.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.