FLORIDA VOTERS DENIED THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CHOOSE FLORIDA'S NEXT LEADER, SAYS DEMOCRAT GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE MICHAEL E. ARTH
August 6, 2009 – Tallahassee, FL
Michael E. Arth, a viable and outspoken Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has been rebuffed by Florida Democratic Party (FDP) leaders, including chair Karen Thurman. Thurman reportedly endorsed Alex Sink in May within minutes of her chosen candidate's announcement that she would run for Governor. Since then, the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) has “paid for and authorized” prominent and numerous fundraising ads and banners on its official website favoring Thurman's candidate.
The advertisements were paid for with money raised from Florida Democrats to support Democratic candidates. To spend these funds to support candidates more than a year before the Primary Election is to deny these Democrats any say in how their money is spent and to dilute their choice in the Primary.
Gainesville Democrat Luis Cuevas with Progressive Push (a Political Action Committee) said, “It's like the old Soviet Union. The party leaders choose the candidates and you get to vote for the people they chose.”
Here is the statement of Hilliary A. Martin, secretary of the Northwest Volusia Democratic Club:
The Florida Democratic Party bylaws tell me that our Democratic Executive Committee has to remain neutral while a few party leaders select, promote, and fund–raise for a candidate who is far less suitable than Mr. Arth. It's outrageously undemocratic, both for us and for the voters. The party bylaws need to be rewritten so it that it is clear that both the DECs and the FDP stay neutral before the primary. In compensation, Mr. Arth should immediately receive the same number of ads that were already given to the other candidate. Anything less would be a disgrace.
For Michael E. Arth's statement visit the campaign updates page at http://www.michaelearth.org/index-3.html
Campaign Website: http://www.michaelearth.org
CONTACT INFORMATION: Michael E. Arth for Florida Governor 2010 E–mail: media@MichaelEArth.org / Michael E. Arth (candidate) John Dunn (Campaign Manager), and Rob Field (Communication Director) 386–626–4884.
Hilliary A. Martin email@example.com 386–473–2393
Luis Cuevas firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida Democratic Party: 1–800–925–3411. Fax: 850–222–0916.
Click here to read interview on August 1, 2009 with www.corrupt.org.
STATEMENT BY MICHAEL E. ARTH REGARDING ELECTORAL REFORM
Being committed to both the Democratic Party and the democratic process, it is distressing to have my party turn away from both its principles and me. Article 1, Section 1 of our Florida State Constitution proclaims – mirroring our Federal Constitution – “All political power is inherent in the people.” The unconstitutional reality is that most of the power is inherent in a handful of people.
I experienced this first hand when I called the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) on June 5th, and spoke to a top party official who said everything he could to dissuade me from running. He said that if I did not have $3 million to start, and another $1.3 million a week to spend, then I had no chance of winning. When I told him I knew the issues better than the other candidates he said, “It's not about the issues, it's about the money. That's why I don't work in fundraising. I'd lose any shred of idealism I have left.”
“Well, I'm an idealist as well as a pragmatist and pay–for–play politics has to change.” I said. He told me that without the money the press wouldn't write one single word about me. He was wrong about the media – I am getting significant coverage – but he may very well be right about the money. The voters will decide if paid advertising is more persuasive than reasoned arguments.
No FDP leader has ever returned a call or personally discussed with me the numerous emails, phone calls, faxes, or letters sent by me, my campaign manager, or my communications director. The FDP leaders could not shut me up but they did the next best thing. While ignoring me, they saturated Democrats with banners and fundraising ads urging them to support their chosen candidate, beginning 15 months before the primary. This bombardment continues to this day and has help raise over $3 million for the other Democrat, almost entirely from individuals and groups with a stake in the status quo. The Wall Street Journal predicted that this will be a $50 million race. It will be politics–as–usual, but it will have a twist because the real issues will get discussed. The other candidates will be forced to debate me on the important issues in the televised debates, even if they refuse to debate me in the interim.
The Florida Democratic Party, even though they are themselves members of Democratic Executive Committees (DECs), are holding themselves aloof from the neutrality required of DECs by Article 1, Section 3.4 of the Democratic Party bylaws, by authorizing and paying for millions of personalized email letters in support of one candidate over the other for the governor's office “prior to the close of the qualifying period.” These endorsements culminated in late July with major fundraising ads done on behalf of one candidate. An endorsement is defined in Article 1, 3.1 “as endorsing, certifying, screening, or recommending, in any manner, candidates in primary elections.”
Endorsing one candidate over another by either the party or its committees is neither ethical nor democratic. Privately, many Democrats in the committees are outraged to find out that rules, they are ethically and contractually bound to accept, are flaunted by their leaders with impunity. As one DEC chairman told me, “The primary should be an election not a coronation.”
This attempt by a few members of the FDP to choose the candidate for the rest of the party is also done by the Florida Republican Party and others. One almost expects this sort of behavior in the Republican Party, but it is especially painful to see it in my own party. The term “Democratic Party” should not be an oxymoron. There must be electoral reform both within and outside the party.
Combined with a winner–take–all system that narrows voters’ choices by marginalizing third party challengers, a tiny cadre of officials within the two parties further narrows that choice by often anointing candidates in statewide elections. This is only a small part of what is wrong with our electoral system. We should reform our electoral system by requiring party neutrality until the primary, while also instituting minimal public campaign financing, instant runoff voting, direct voting, and proportional representation. This would bring dignity to politics, stop the vote–buying, help keep good people honest, eliminate spoilers and vote strategizing, make gerrymanders extinct, and bring out the best candidates.
Voters often complain about not being properly represented, but they usually do not blame the real culprit – our electoral system. Instead they tend to blame the politicians who they see as venal, superficial, power–hungry, mendacious, and preoccupied with non–stop fundraising. Only by reforming the electoral system can we get the leaders we both need and deserve.
Michael E. Arth is a well–known urban designer and policy analyst. In Florida he has been recognized for his community activism and for having run out drug dealers while rebuilding a slum neighborhood in DeLand. An award–winning film about his work was first released in 2007. Less than three weeks after announcing, with little more than a website, and no acknowledgement from the FDP, Arth's state–wide name recognition among Democrats was already 9% – with 45% of those saying that they would vote for him in the primary. (June 24–26 Mason–Dixon Polling and Research Inc.)
In addition to advocating for electoral reform, Arth is challenging the current leadership on housing, growth management, health, taxation, transportation, energy, law and order issues related to Florida having the fastest growing prison system in the country; and the trustee's mismanaging of the State Board of Administration (which lost $61 billion in the 18 months preceding January 2009). He is a harsh critic of state policy regarding incarceration of the mentally ill and those with substance abuse issues.