What does the Florida Democratic Party need to climb out of the basement after another electoral drubbing?
For starters, it needs to clean house at the top of the state party organization, state Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat and prospective candidate for governor, said in the latest Political Party with Adam Smith episode.
“I refuse to sit back and let the wheels turn in the wrong direction. It would be different if folks had done everything right, but we’re talking about people that also applied for a PPP loan,” she said, referring to the state party seeking and accepting at least $780,000 in federal Paycheck Protection Program money. Republicans pounded Democratic candidates across the state for that move.
Eskamani, 30, is an energetic, progressive force in the Orlando area, who flipped a Republican district to Democratic in 2018. She is among several names circulating to take on Ron DeSantis in two years including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, former gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham and Chris King, state Sen. Jason Pizzo and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
In a year when Donald Trump comfortably won Florida, and Florida Democrats lost five state House seats, at least two senate seats and two congressional seats, Eskamani’s re-election victory included winning two precincts carried by Trump. She spent much of the year reaching out to constituents to see what they needed during the pandemic – help with Florida’s messed-up unemployment system, many said – more than asking for their votes.
“It can’t just be about you. It has to be about us,” she said. “Up until election day, I was escalating unemployment claims … We win Trump precincts by campaigning on issues that matter to everyday people, and we deliver with results.”
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