Florida Democratic Party

Florida Democratic Party
Chairperson Allison Tant
Senate leader Arthenia Joyner
House leader Mark Pafford
Founded 1834 (1834)
Headquarters 214 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee
Ideology Centrism
Modern liberalism
Social liberalism
National affiliation Democratic Party
Colors           Azure, green
Seats in the Upper House
15 / 40
Seats in the Lower House
41 / 120

The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the state of Florida.


The Florida Democratic Party has historically dominated Florida's state and local politics. Florida's Governor's Mansion was closed to Republicans from 1877 until 1967, when Claude R. Kirk, a Republican from Jacksonville, was sworn-in as Governor of Florida.

Florida politics was largely dominated by the Democrats until Nixon's southern strategy, which took advantage of white objections to the advances of the Civil Rights Movement which resulted in a regional political realignment for the south. After Nixon's victory in 1968, the state voted Democratic in only four Presidential elections: 1976 (Jimmy Carter), 1996 (Bill Clinton), 2008, and 2012 (Barack Obama). The presidential election in 2000 was decided by a margin of 537 votes out of approximately 6 million cast, earning George W. Bush the presidency over Al Gore.

The Florida Senate was dominated by Democrats until 1992, when a majority of Republicans was elected. The Florida House of Representatives turned Republican after the November 1996 election. Since then, the number of Democrats in both chambers have continued to drop. The Florida Legislature became the first legislature in any of the states of the former confederacy to come under complete Republican control when the Republicans gained control of the House and Senate in the 1996 election. However, in the 2006 election the Democrats actually gained seats in the State House, the first instance of this occurring since the early 1980s.

In the 2006 election, the Democratic nominee for Governor was U.S. Representative Jim Davis from Tampa, Florida. He lost the election to Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist.

The most Democratic region of the state is South Florida, which contains the large cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. The Tampa Bay region is also relatively Democratic, although it has become much more competitive in recent electoral cycles. Leon County, which contains the state capitol of Tallahassee and Florida State University, and Alachua County, home to the city of Gainesville and the University of Florida, are also strong Democratic areas. North Florida and the panhandle are also very Democratic on the local level, although those two regions are solid Republican strongholds in presidential elections.

Florida Democrats demanded, on March 13, 2008, a new primary vote, and state party officials have a proposal for recouping the 210 delegates the Sunshine State lost when it moved its primary ahead of the approved time frame.[1] After weeks of negotiations, the Florida Democratic Party said March 17, 2008 it would not hold a second primary in the state.[2]

The current chairman of the Florida Democratic Party is Allison Tant, who replaced former Florida State Senator Rod Smith on January 26, 2013.[3]

The Florida Democratic Party under recent state chairs

Scott Maddox

Main article: Scott Maddox

Scott Maddox, the former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, served as FDP Chair from 2003 to 2006, leaving the post to run for governor. The Associated Press noted that while Democrats suffered electoral defeats during his tenure, party activists "recogniz[ed] he had built up the party's infrastructure and volunteer base."[4]

Karen Thurman

Main article: Karen Thurman

Karen Thurman, a former 5-term members of Congress from Florida's 5th District, served from 2005 to 2010. In 2005 Thurman was elected Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP), succeeding Chairman Scott Maddox, who resigned in order to seek the Democratic nomination for governor. Thurman resigned on November 12, 2010 following the midterm elections.[5]

Rod Smith

In November 2010, Rod Smith was elected Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP), succeeding Karen Thurman who resigned on November 12, 2010 following the midterm elections.[6] Smith, a former Alachua County State Prosecutor and State Senator from the 14th district, became chair following his unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor in 2010.[7] Smith's term expired in January 2013, when he was succeeded by Allison Tant.[8]

Allison Tant

In December 2013, former lobbyist, philanthropist, and Democratic fundraiser[9] Allison Tant announced she would seek the chairmanship of the Florida Democratic Party.[10] She was elected in January, 2014, after a closely contested race against Hillsborough State Committeeman Alan Clendenin.[8]

After large national losses in 2014, Debbie Wasserman Schultz commissioned the Victory Task Force to "take a deep dive" to figure out what went wrong in 2014.[11] Similarly, Chair Tant created the state-level LEAD Task Force, to learn the lessons of the statewide Democratic defeat.[11]

Current federal Democratic officeholders

United States Senate

Photo U.S. Senators
Bill Nelson, Senior Member of the United States Senate from the state of Florida.

United States House of Representatives

Photo U.S. Representatives
Gwen Graham, 2nd District- Tallahassee, Panama City
Corrine Brown, 5th District- Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando.
Alan Grayson, 9th District- Orlando, Kissimmee, St. Cloud.
Kathy Castor, 14th District- Tampa, St. Petersburg.
Patrick Murphy, 18th District- Ft. Pierce, Palm Beach.
Alcee Hastings, 20th District- West Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Delray Beach.
Ted Deutch, 21st District- Greenacres, Coral Springs.
Lois Frankel, 22nd District- Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, 23rd District- Miami, Pompano Beach, Weston.
Frederica Wilson, 24th District- North Miami, Miramar.

Former Florida Governors and U.S. Senators


Photo Former Governors of Florida
Buddy MacKay
Lawton Chiles
Wayne Mixson
Bob Graham
Reubin Askew
W. Haydon Burns
C. Farris Bryant
LeRoy Collins
Daniel McCarty
Fuller Warren
Miller Caldwell
Spessard Holland
Fred Cone
David Sholtz
Doyle Carlton
John Martin
Cary Hardee
Park Trammell
Albert Gilchrist
Napoleon Broward
William Jennings
William Bloxham
Henry Mitchell
Francis Fleming
Edward Perry
William Bloxham
George Drew
Abraham Allison
John Milton
Madison Perry
James Broome
William Moseley

United States Senators

Photo Former U.S. Senators from Florida
Bob Graham
Lawton Chiles
Richard Stone
George Smathers
Spessard Holland
Charles Andrews
Scott Loftin
Claude Pepper
William Luther Hill
Park Trammell
Nathan Bryan
James Taliaferro
Duncan Fletcher
William Milton
William James Bryan
Samuel Pasco
Charles Jones
Stephen Mallory II
Wilkinson Call
Stephen Mallory
James Westcott
David Levy Yulee

See also


  1. "Florida Dems devise plan for new primary - CNN.com". edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  2. "No new primary for Florida Democrats - CNN.com". edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  3. "Florida Democrats Elect Allison Tant to Lead Party". Florida Democratic Party. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  4. "Jacksonville.com: Maddox to step down as Florida Democratic Party chair 3/16/05". jacksonville.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  5. "Karen Thurman retires as Florida Democratic chairwoman". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  6. "Florida Democratic Chair Karen Thurman's resignation letter". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  7. "Local attorney Rod Smith elected to head state Democratic Party". Gainesville.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  8. 1 2 "Allison Tant elected chairwoman of Florida Democratic Party". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  9. "Power Couples - Tallahassee Magazine - March-April 2012". www.tallahasseemagazine.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  10. "Former lobbyist Allison Tant joins race to lead Florida Democratic Party". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  11. 1 2 Sun-Sentinel, South Florida. "Democrats seek fixes for voter disapproval". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
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