Allison Tant sent a pained letter to the Democratic Party faithful after last week’s election that saw Democrats lose more seats than they gained statewide and around the country.
“While last night's results weren’t what we’d hoped for, I want you to hear directly from me: we will never stop fighting for the people of Florida,” Tant wrote.
“We were all reeling from the results of the election, but I wanted to thank the people who worked hard,” she says. “There were a lot of hopes resting on this and we fell short.”
It wasn't the kind of email she was expecting to send. Tant and Democratic supporters were full of optimism less than a week before Election Day.
“We came out of the early vote period three points up,” Tant says. Plus, staffers and volunteers managed to make contact with 5 million voters through knocks on doors and phone calls. That kind of mobilization was a first for the party. But it wasn’t enough to get voters to the polls in a midterm election.
“Of course, we are very unhappy when the folks that we are reaching out to don’t show up to vote,” Tant says. “So, I have appointed a task force chaired by Sen. Bill Nelson to help us take a look at exactly what happened with this election.”
The 14 member LEAD (Leadership Expansion to Advance Democrats) Task Force will work to strengthen the Democratic Party’s brand, boost candidate recruitment and figure out why more people didn’t choose to turn out for the election. Members include Cutler Bay Sen. Dwight Bullard, Miami Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez and Palm Beach County Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo. The group will offer recommendations in June at the party’s 2015 Leadership Blue weekend.
Tant believes something is “askew” with the way Democrats deal with midterm elections. They’re energized in presidential election years, but not so much for midterms. She has two more years in her four-year term as party chair to get some answers.
“I’m more determined than ever to get it right and to get us in a better place. We made significant headway with donors this year and with voter outreach, and I think that we have built a pretty good machine,” Tant says. “We have to figure out the last piece which is - in a midterm – getting those folks to vote.”