Jan 9, 2023 - Politics

Some Miami Democrats want party chairman to resign after GOP wins

Illustration of a combination of the Republican elephant and Democrat donkey merged.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

After Democrats suffered stunning losses in Miami last November, some members of the local Democratic Party are demanding that their leader resign.

Why it matters: Miami-Dade has long been viewed as a Democratic stronghold, but Republicans won nearly every race in the county last year, Politico reports.

Driving the news: A group of 10 current and former high-ranking Miami-Dade Democrats signed onto a letter calling for chairman Robert Dempster to step down over claims of campaign-finance reporting violations and leadership failures.

  • The group — which makes up a fraction of the 257 total members — sent the letter to Florida Democratic Party chairman Manny Diaz on Thursday, requesting a third-party audit of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.
  • The letter alleges the party improperly reported some of its campaign finances over the last two years and made a contribution to a City of Miami commission candidate early last year, two months after the candidate lost his election.

Dempster, who is conducting an internal audit, told Axios that he has been "exceedingly transparent" with members about finances, reporting and "our efforts to reconcile any good faith errors which may have been made."

  • Dempster says that those who want a leadership change could hold a vote for his removal, which would require a two-thirds majority.

What they're saying: Cindy Lerner, a former state representative who signed the letter, tells Axios her concerns with Dempster's leadership began in the run-up to the election.

  • She said the local party last year did not appoint any members to the communications committee, which is used to disseminate information to members and the public, and lacked coordination in campaign planning.

Of note: Dempster removed Lerner from the local campaign committee in October after she contacted the campaigns of Democratic candidates Charlie Crist and Val Demings to criticize the party's efforts, both Dempster and Lerner told Axios.

  • In an email to Lerner removing her from the committee, obtained by Axios, Dempster called the comments Lerner made to the campaigns disparaging and false.

The other side: Dempster, who was elected chair in 2021, said no one in the party is satisfied with the recent election losses but that Democrats have been on a downward trajectory for decades.

  • "We are all working very hard to turn this around, we will turn it around and I continue to invite these 10 members to become a part of the solution as opposed to the problem," he said.

What we're watching: The members behind the letter gave the state Democratic Party until Jan. 20 to audit the Miami-Dade party.

  • If the local party isn't audited by then, the group said it would refer its concerns to the Miami-Dade County Inspector General's office and the Florida Elections Commission.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that in order to remove the chair, the Democratic Party would need to hold a vote for removal with a two-thirds majority, not a vote of no confidence with a three-fifths majority.


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