While Democrats were able to stave off the weak Republican “Red Wave” of 2022 by holding on to their majority in the U.S. Senate, their expected crash and burn in the U.S. House of Representatives appears to have been more of a cushioned emergency landing. Republicans were expecting to do better across the country during the 2022 midterm elections but didn’t, except in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis walloped Florida Democrats statewide.
Gov. DeSantis’s decisive 20-point defeat of Democrat Charlie Crist and Sen. Marco Rubio’s 16-point trouncing of Rep. Val Demings, not to mention the supermajorities that Republicans gained in both the Florida congressional delegation and the Florida State Legislature, decapitated the Florida Democratic Party.
Veteran Democratic ad maker Kevin Cate put it best in a tweet.
“At the rate Florida is going, an NPA candidate for governor may have a better shot than a Democrat in 2026. It's that bad. Complete collapse. We either reset or go extinct,” stated Cate.
The Florida Democratic Party has completely collapsed.
So now that the dust has settled and Florida Democrats face a daunting uphill climb to, at the very least, regain some self-respect politically, who will step up to lead them?
As soon as Democrats realized the monumental failure that their election-year efforts brought to bear, it was obvious that calls for heads to roll would be swift.
The Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party Manny Diaz says he will not step down even though he has been asked to resign.
But if Diaz steps down, who will take his place? Who would want to take the helm of the sunken Democrat Titanic?
The first names that come to mind are State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, State Senator Jason Pizzo, Congressman-elect Jared Moskowitz, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
State Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith have also been mentioned to be possible options to lead the state party, but if Democrats want to have a fighting chance to win future elections, they need to steer away from backing Democratic Progressives.
Sens. Book and Pizzo are considered moderate Democrats, as is Rep. Moskowitz, but may not be ready to take on the responsibility or drama of fixing such a broken state party.
Moskowitz will have to tow a moderate line in the Republican-controlled House if he wants to get anything done, and Leader Book and Sen. Pizzo will be busy trying to negotiate whatever they can get from the Republican-controlled state Senate.
Book is also eyeing a 2026 run for governor, so you can imagine the weight that is already on her shoulders.
And then there is Rep. Wasserman Schultz.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz, who already has the experience of running the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would probably be the best choice to help Florida Democrats rebuild.
Wasserman Schultz is the most respected and senior elected official in the state. Her experience and ability to negotiate and lead make her the perfect choice for Democrats if she wants the job.
While Wasserman Schultz is a liberal Democrat, she is not a Progressive Democrat but does promote all of the key issues that are important to many progressives and liberal Democrats across the state.
Wasserman Schultz is a known quantity, trusted, and respected within the Democratic Party, but will she be enough to fix the “complete collapse” Kevin Cate described?
If Wasserman Schultz passes on the job, would Nikki Fried entertain the opportunity?
Florida Democrats are in a bad way politically right now.