News from your State Committee Representatives
Mike Shlasko, Sarasota Democratic Party State Committeeman
Mary Clupper, Sarasota Democratic Party State Committeewoman
The holidays were a very busy time for your new State Committee representatives. From the day that we were elected on December 14 to the day of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) Organizational Meeting in Orlando on January 14 not only were we involved in Sarasota Democratic Party (SCDP) organizational issues but we were enveloped by a very fast paced campaign for Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, additional FDP Officers, and 10 Florida Democratic National Committee (DNC) Members. The Chair race consumed the bulk of our time for 30 days.
We met with all Chair candidates, some at candidate forums, some at our headquarters, some over dinner. We also spoke to candidates via phone, via Facebook Messenger and via SMS Message. We listened to candidates as they addressed DEC’s across the state and watched DEC elections that determined candidate eligibility via Facebook Live. We listened to candidates stating their positions via Internet Radio and as they answered questions from Democratic Interest Groups via email. In short, the availability of such diverse media kept the candidates, and we who were asked to make choices, totally immersed in the process and allowed us to become very well informed very quickly.
There were 5 candidates for party Chair and although arcane party rules on qualification made for interesting headlines, in the end we had 5 strong candidates for the position. Those candidates included the then current First Vice-Chair, a former State Senator and former Chair of the Miami-Dade DEC, the Chair of the Duval DEC, the Chair of the Osceola DEC, and a gentleman by the name of Stephen Bittel. Bittel is a very successful Miami businessman, the Co-Chair of the DNC Finance Committee and active FDP fundraiser.
After careful consideration, we both decided that Stephen Bittel was the best candidate. He ran by far the best campaign demonstrating a very commendable work ethic and organizational skills. He was the most sensitive to the issues faced by small to mid-sized red counties like ours. And he presented a plan to ensure that Florida would never again help to elect a Republican President. He presented his plan to dramatically ramp up the party’s financing, organization structure, staffing, training and messaging. On January 11, we met with the SCDP Board and asked for a unanimous Board endorsement which was agreed to just before midnight. On January 12, our endorsement, along with several other Southwest Florida County DEC’s which we coordinated with, was announced publicly, making us instrumental in the election of Stephen Bittel as FDP Chair on the first ballot two days later. In addition to the election of Mr. Bittel, a diverse slate of officers and DNC Members were also elected.
We will continue to fulfill our duties as liaison to the FDP but are now very focused on our party here in Sarasota. Mary has taken responsibility for Clubs & Caucuses and Mike has taken responsibility for Communications and Bylaws. We look forward to serving you for the next 4 years and to the many important contributions that you will be making to help us take our party to the next level.
Mike & Mary