After the recent loss of establishment Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to anti-establishment candidate Donald Trump, the Democratic party is continuing to struggle with establishment vs. populist and progressive ideals. Stephen Bittel is a prominent Democratic donor and Debbie Wasserman Schultz ally making a run for Florida State Democrat Chair. Progressives in the state, including the Miami-Dade Democratic Progressive Caucus, oppose Stephen Bittel for Florida Democratic Party Chair. They argue that not only is he the wrong person to lead the state party, but the way in which he is ascending to the position completely subverts the correct and just process.
Latino Rebels recently reported on how Stephen Bittel is trying to weasel himself into the Democratic Party. They explain the entire convoluted process required for Bittel to succeed:
In order to run for FDP chair, one has to be an Executive Committee member of a county DEC, and in order to qualify for that, one must be a precinct captain. At the end of a very long night of the DEC elections, Bret Berlin called for a motion to swear in all new members of the DEC as precinct captains without elections, even though there was no quorum. The next day, on the list of new precinct captains, was the name of Stephen Bittel though he was never seen in the room.
Now that Bittel is listed as a Precinct Captain, it just so happens that Bret Berlin has stepped down as state committeeman for which he was recently elected on December 6th. Originally reported in The Miami Herald, Berlin said immediately after winning the election that there was “no chance” of him stepping down, further stating, “I’m not going to give respect to that question. I love being committeeman.” Something has obviously changed since that statement.
The committeeman vacancy requires a special election to fill the position, which only Precinct Captains can fill. Bittel has wasted no time in making his intentions known by sending the following email out (you can see the full email here):
Winning this election is important to Bittel’s State Chair run because candidates for state party chair must hold a position within their own county first. All the dominos have been lining up for a major Democratic donor takeover of the Florida Democratic Party, but progressives are fighting back. They are making sure they will have the oppositional votes needed to thwart the threat and also calling for an investigation into how Bittel’s plan has already gotten this far.
— MiamiGator (@GatorsEite23) December 15, 2016
A change.org petition drafted and signed by members of the Brevard County Democratic Executive Committee is calling for a complete investigation by the Florida Democratic Party. Outlining the seemingly obvious subversion of proper process, they are not standing idly by. The election for committeeman will be on December 20th.
Want a bit more backstory? Check out Anoa Changa’s interview with Ben America on her podcast, The Way With Anoa.