Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The State Of Tampa Politics: Maya Brown

2018 should be considered as a year of hope for Tampa Democrats. There are several opportunities to progress our local party this year. There is potential in the 2018 Election Cycle to pick-up wins in Senate District 18, House District 63, and County Commission Districts 5 & 7. With the right candidates and campaign strategy, these seats can be flipped. We have to work on bringing diversity into the party. Unfortunately, the 2016 Election left a very bad and wrong impression that frustrated voters will autonomously join the Party. 

Yes, memberships did increase because of anti-Trump sentiments. However, if we analyze the demographics of Party makeup it doesn’t reflect the voters of color, particularly Black Women who are winning elections for Democrats. We’ve placed a lot of emphasis on running grassroots campaigns for candidates and issues. It’s crucial to get widespread community support and involvement. Yet, we’ve juxtaposed grassroots and well-oiled machine/campaign structure. Fundraising isn’t the antithesis of grassroots. Money helps to fund the local and community efforts of a campaign. Yes, volunteers are great and also crucial, but you shouldn’t burn out the same 5 people. Donors give because they believe in you and the impact you can make in office. These two worlds can and should coexist. We’ve still got to address our lack of transit efficiency. Transportation is an intersectional issue. By continuing to patch-work solutions, we negatively impact our economy and environment. Hopefully, with the gains of Democrats to the BOCC, 

we can give Commissioners Miller and Kemp some help to implement solutions. The Homestead Tax Exemption and Voter Rights Restoration amendments are two issues that should be our priority. There have been a lot of people hard at work getting petition signatures for the Voter Rights Restoration Amendment – thank you! We have to continue working hard to reach our goal of getting it on the ballot, and getting to 60% of the vote. The Homestead Tax Exemption is going to have substantial consequences if passed. If we could get a few groups to work on educating voters about the amendment, we could see success
 here as well. 

I am excited about the number of candidates running for office this year. However, I am nervous about the risk of forfeiting attainable wins because we lack cohesive coordination and strategy. This isn’t to chastise any particular person, but to highlight that we’ve got serious work to do and fast. Here are a few suggestions: 1. Host a strategic planning session with all of the Democratic clubs and caucuses and invite the local activist groups. Here, we can begin to bridge the gap between activism and public service and work together to avoid crowded primaries, over-utilization of limited resources, and a developing a winning strategy for seats in Hillsborough County. We keep talking about building a bench in Tampa, but it seems that when it’s time to launch campaigns, we are frantically searching for anyone to run instead of having a plan for that seat at least a year out.

 You’ve got to acknowledge that the Republicans have mastered the implementation of bench-building, which has cost Democrats a lot of losses. As soon as there is parity here, there’ll be significant progress. 2. Train candidates, campaign staff, and volunteers. It’s imperative to train all three components of a campaign team because it isn’t productive to have 1/3 of the team understand the process. We’ve got to step our game up when it comes to ensuring our candidates are qualified and have a war chest of resources to be successful. Bring in professional political operatives to dive deep into campaign strategy and invest in long-term infrastructure. As aforementioned, we have a lot of potential. We can’t stand in our own way anymore. Let’s work together and rake up some wins! 

Maya Brown

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