After disappointing 2020, Florida Democratic chair looks to Duval County for inspiration

Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

MIAMI – After a disappointing showing for Florida Democrats in the 2020 election, the statewide party last month elected former Miami mayor Manny Diaz to help inject new life into a party that has been dominated by Republicans over the last 20 years.

Although President Joe Biden won the election, former President Donald Trump won Florida by a comfortable margin and Democrats lost both congressional and legislative seats.

Diaz was brought in to turn the tide — starting with what is sure to be a hotly contested 2022 election where a U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s seat will be in play.

“Since 2000, I think, Democrats have lost 27 out of 34 statewide elections,” Diaz told Kent Justice on This Week in Jacksonville. “If you look at the voter registration numbers, not only Republicans but No Party Affiliates out registered Democrats. So, yeah, I mean it’s a problem and a problem that needs to be fixed.”

Diaz said he wants to bring his experience as the mayor of a major metropolis as well as his business experience to the party with a focus on registering new voters.

“It is a business, and its business is electing Democrats statewide,” Diaz said.

Diaz said he and the party will look to Duval County for what is possible.

For the first time in decades, Duval County turned blue in a presidential election. The last time a Democratic candidate took Duval in a presidential election was President Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Diaz credited state Rep. Angie Nixon, Rep. Tracie Davis, state Sen. Audrey Gibson and chair of the Duval County Democratic Party Daniel Henry for the success in Jacksonville.

“What they do is they’re on the ground, and that’s the kind of operation that I’m gonna build statewide,” Diaz said. “We’re gonna build a statewide infrastructure. The party has not successfully done that, it’s a more reactive kind of approach and, and the folks that you have on the ground in Jacksonville are the kinds of people that I want to have statewide.”

Diaz touched on other issues, including the coronavirus and potential candidates for the 2022 governor’s race, during his interview with Justice. You can watch the entire interview on This Week in Jacksonville, Sunday at 9 a.m. on Channel 4 and at noon on CW17.

About the Author:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.