It’s unlikely Allison Tant will not be chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party for the full four years of her term. This is because Tant has a distinct advantage over most politicos — she actually wants the job. However, if Tant does not get her ranting under control, the FDP may start to have second thoughts about putting its trust in her.
The Tant rant making the news this week was captured on video by the News Service of Florida. In the interview, Tant criticized infighting among Democrats after the Nov. 4 election, particularly Dwayne Taylor’s challenge of state Rep. Mark Pafford to lead the Florida House Democratic Caucus.
Tant noted that Taylor’s plan to force a leadership vote Monday would be the seventh vote in two years by the caucus. Tant said this hurts the state party’s recruitment of candidates and fundraising because no one knows who is in charge and who to “build a relationship with.”
“Why anyone thinks this kind of craziness is good is beyond me,” said Tant. “It’s uncalled for.”
Tant went on to say that “the bedwetters need to shut up.”
Sunshine State News’ Nancy Smith has a good takedown this morning of Tant’s ranting, saying the Madame Chairwoman “would be better advised to hold her temper, address her caucus respectfully and let the enemy camp teach her something.”
My advice for Tant? Stay off of Facebook for a while. Tant blistered me over the weekend in the comments section of a status update by failed House candidate Sean Shaw.
Shaw wrote, “Everyone needs to remember the status of FDP when she took over.” To which I (feeling a little sporty) replied, “Yes, there were 45 Democrats in the Florida House before Allison Tant Richard. Today, there are 38.”
Not unexpectedly, my comment did not sit well with Tant. Her response:
“You know damn well, Schorch that things are much more complex than that. Five of the seats were in swing districts that were going to be major battles to hold onto under normal circumstances, with great effort, not in the fact of a wave election like the one we just had. When anybody is ready to put up their efforts in this last election next to mine, I will talk to you. It’s easy to sit back in an arm chair with a computer to prognosticate and pontificate and an entirely different story when you’re actually up on your feet and on the field of battle. You want to talk about this, you call me.”
Besides misspelling my name, Tant also mistakes me as someone not actively engaged in campaigns. Certainly, I am not as active in the political consulting world as I once was, but I’ve worked enough, especially in the swing districts Tant refers to, to know what the so-called field of battle looks like. In fact, as I pointed out to Tant, the Republicans whose campaigns I play a minor role in won, whereas her candidates lost.
But all of this is beside the point. The point should be: What the hell is Tant doing engaging in a back-and-forth on Facebook about her record? That’s what those of us in “an arm chair with a computer to prognosticate and pontificate” are supposed to do, not the chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
Not that Tant should even want to engage in a back-and-forth about her record. As Smith reminds us in her column, Tant’s record looks like this:
- She fielded four statewide candidates and they all lost — three by landslides.
- The Democrats’ small delegation in the Florida House further shrunk, giving Republicans a supermajority.
- The party failed to recruit strong challengers to most GOP members of Congress.
- Voter turnout in Democrat-rich South Florida was dismal.
What Tant really needs to do begins with an apology. She needs to say the buck stops here, we lost, and I am sorry. Not just sorry for the FDP, but to our candidates who went down fighting, and to the voters who supported them.
She should be honest and say she doesn’t know what up looks like yet, but she is determined to find out.
She needs to stop calling people bedwetters. She needs to stay positive on social media.
Tant benefits from the one thing very few Democrats in Florida politics enjoy: Job security for the next two years. She should use this time in a way no recent FDP chair has — by being honest about the party’s future and what it really will take to get it out of the abyss.