Florida Democrats take action to restore party’s direction by suspending 3 county chairs

Florida Democrats took a decisive step on Monday by suspending three county chairs, citing their repeated violations of party rules and lack of cooperation. This unprecedented move comes at a crucial time for the party, as they face the challenge of a tough election year in a state that is shifting towards the red.

The party took action by suspending three chairpersons: Robert Dempster, chair of Miami-Dade; Mindy Koch, chair of Palm Beach; and Carol Barfield, chair of Franklin County.

According to a statement from Nikki Fried, Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, this decision is a part of a broader strategy to revitalize local parties. Fried explained that the state party has been working on addressing these issues for the past year. To tackle the challenges, she established an assessment team after being elected to lead the state Democrats.

According to Fried, the Democrats in Florida are committed to building the necessary infrastructure and party organization to regain control of the state and protect the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Additionally, they are determined to support and elect Democrats at all levels of government. Fried emphasized the importance of their mission, stating that the entire country is relying on their efforts.

Fried received backing from DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, who took to Twitter to express his support. In a post on Monday, Harrison wrote, “@NikkiFried is extremely determined and is going above and beyond to assist @FlaDems in reclaiming Florida. #TakeBackFlorida.”

The chairs were bombarded with a series of complaints by the state party. According to the party, Franklin County failed to provide a membership list and audits of finances from 2022, which were supposed to be submitted by April 2023. A request for comment from Barfield went unanswered.

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The Palm Beach party accused Koch of failing to cancel contracts that didn’t receive approval from the Democratic executive committee. In an interview, Koch expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision, attributing the issues to division among Democratic members in the county. She stated, “I was completely taken aback.”

“Just like the rest of the country, Palm Beach County is divided,” she remarked. “I won by a mere vote, but unfortunately, that wasn’t sufficient for certain individuals to grant me the opportunity to fulfill my duties. The current situation is a direct consequence of that particular choice.”

According to her, the county organized an incredibly successful phone banking event over the past two weekends. Additionally, they also had a fruitful fundraising event in February, which featured Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin from Maryland.

“I’m an engaged Democrat working tirelessly to connect with fellow Democrats,” she asserted. “I remain committed to serving and advocating for the people.”

The Miami-Dade Democrats were accused by the party of not being able to achieve a quorum at their meetings due to outdated membership lists. Additionally, it was pointed out that Miami-Dade needed to demonstrate that 90 percent of the district committee positions were filled, similar to what the county had done, in order to endorse local candidates.

Dempster claimed that while other counties had also failed to reach quorums, they were not suspended. He argued that the requirement for Miami-Dade to have a high percentage of committee positions filled was an obscure bylaw that had not been enforced in the past. According to him, the issue of a “minor technicality” should not warrant the removal of a county chair.

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Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties boast a higher number of registered Democratic voters compared to Republicans. However, GOP registrations have been narrowing the divide. According to a poll conducted by EMC Research, it was anticipated that former President Donald Trump would secure victory in Miami-Dade in November. Interestingly, this was a feat he failed to achieve in both 2016 and 2020, despite emerging victorious in the state of Florida overall.

Florida Democrats issued a compliance notice to the chairs in February and subsequently suspended them on March 4. The Central Committee, consisting of 120 members, will now proceed with a formal removal vote. The meeting to finalize the removal has not yet been scheduled, and in the meantime, the vice chairs of each county will assume responsibility until new chairs are elected.

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