House Democrats question legitimacy of Evan Jenne, Bobby DuBose as leaders
Reps. Evan Jenne and Bobby DuBose announced Democrats' ranking members for the coming Session.

Jenne DuBose
There's already rumblings about a new leadership election.

Were incoming Democratic leaders in the Florida House even elected to their caucus positions?

Some colleagues are now raising that very question.

Amid lingering tensions about the termination of the House victory consulting team, some Democrats have started to openly wonder if a new election needs to take place before anyone steps into the role of leading House Democrats after the 2020 elections.

Reps. Evan Jenne and Bobby DuBose in April announced they would share power after the 2022 elections instead of force a leadership vote.

That came after a lengthy day of debate, and it seemed to cut off at the pass a protracted selection process and battle over the title of Democratic Leader.

The move to share power was presented as historic, but the reason such an agreement may be unprecedented is that foregoing an actual vote avoided — or even violated — the rules.

Article VII of the “Standing Rules for the Caucus of Democratic Members of the Florida House of Representatives” lays out leadership election processes. That includes a nominating process, and if there are opponents seeking the same office, there is explicit mention of ballots.

There’s even a winnowing process, detailed where multiple votes are taken with the lowest vote-getters knocked off the ballot each round.

None of that happened when Jenne and DuBose announced they would share duties instead, with Jenne leading policy efforts and DuBose focusing on politics.

Rep. Al Jacquet said that, at the time, the move bothered him.

“I was in the room, just shocked,” the Riviera Beach Democrat said. He recalls, “looking around to see if no one was seeing this hijack.”

Other caucus members confirm they took no vote about Jenne’s and DuBose’s deal. There were nominations, but then DuBose and Jenne stood in front of the crowd and embraced.

“No vote was cast by any members for either Jenne or DuBose,” said state Rep. Anika Tene Omphroy, a Lauderdale Lakes Democrat.

Jenne said that’s what he remembers too, though he recalls nobody upset at the time.

“Even the people you talked to, whoever they are, gave us a standing ovation,” Jenne said.

By his account, current House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee thanked Jenne and DuBose for avoiding a divisive leadership fight.

As far as Jenne is concerned, the power-sharing agreement passed through unanimous consent. While Jenne doesn’t know how that works with caucus rules, he assumed at the time nobody had any problems.

“Leader McGhee said at the meeting it was OK,” he said.

But not everybody felt the same way.

The sudden questioning of leadership’s legitimacy comes amid continued frustration with a decision for House Victory to part ways with consultants Reggie Cardozo and Janee Murphy.

Schisms between members were apparent following a contentious conference call among Democratic state representatives; sources said tension and anger marked the conversation over the unexpected termination of the relationship.

House Victory since announced new hires — Political Director Laurie A. Watkins and Finance Director Gretchell Trochez-Triguero — to do the work the prior consultants performed.

But Omphroy still considers firing Cardozo and Murphy a betrayal of members’ trust. Also, it was bad politics, she said, suggesting firing Murphy send a particularly bad message to other black women.

“Let’s talk numbers,” she said. “Fifty-five percent of black women voters cast ballots in November 2018, a full six-percentage points above the national turnout. Black women are the most reliable Democratic vote nationally and in Florida.

“Our House Victory Director(s) and staff, from a strategic perspective, should reflect this strength and be a reflection of our base’s diversity and it currently does not,” she added. “My grandpa taught me how you spend your money reflects what you value.”

Jenne, for his part, said he believes the high emotions have started to die down within the caucus, he doesn’t feel any challenge of the leadership agreement has significant backing.

But a high-ranking source within the caucus said that while the termination of Cardozo and Murphy pushed friction in the caucus into view, problems have lingered for months. And much of that stems with the way they bulldozed through the power-sharing agreement.

One member said at least six members submitted write-in ballots after the fact supporting another member besides Jenne or DuBose.

While a handful of caucus members continue to question decisions, Jenne and DuBose have spoken to over 40 members personally who still support the co-Leader-designates.

But other sources contradict that — saying more than half the caucus remains upset by the leadership decisions being made by DuBose and Jenne. Some have demanded a new election take place, and if that occurred, it’s no clear either Jenne or DuBose would come out.

But those still angry, express strong feelings.

Jacquet and Omphroy both feel Rep. Ben Diamond, the Leader-designate expected to lead the caucus after the 2022 elections, was the only designate chosen by ballot and therefore the only person in the caucus who deserves that name.

Diamond, who was also part of the decision to part ways with Cardozo and Murphy, referred questions to DuBose and Jenne about the controversy surrounding their sharing agreement.

Jacquet said he’s also upset at the process disruption. He just filed legislation to ease financial burdens for returning citizens.

To see rules about voting discarded, at a time when Democrats set themselves up as champions of the disenfranchised, chaffs Jacquet all the more.

“We’re fighting for voters’ rights, and that’s how we do our own elections?” Jacquet said. “You think they will help immigrants, blacks, and poor people against voter suppression? I don’t.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


5 comments

  • RG CLEMETE

    August 16, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    -End all deportations of illegal aliens (if you get here, you stay.)
    -Voting rights for non citizens.
    -Massive tax increases.
    -Pack the courts with radical liberal judges (Like the 9th circuit)
    -Increase refugee’s from the third world.
    -Non citizens allowed to hold public office.
    -Socialism.
    -Open Borders.
    -Sanctuary Cities.
    -Decriminalize illegal entry into our country.
    -De-fund & terminate Border Patrol & ICE.
    -Disarming Americans.
    -Free abortions for all (Taxpayer funded)
    -Green new deal.
    -End of Electoral College
    -Free medicare care for all including non citizens (taxpayer funded)
    -!00% free college for all, including non citizens. (tax payer funded) -Reparations for every race “harmed” by the white man.
    -Susie & Bobby using the same restrooms.
    -Late term abortions up to 9 months.
    -Infanticide.
    -Pay check for every person in the US even if they choose not to work.

    Democrat-Socialist 2020 Platform & Goals:

    *Sources: Straight from the Democrat’s themselves. View their speeches / debates on you tube. Pay particular attention to when the moderator asks the candidates to “raise your hand” if in favor questions. The choice is yours.

  • gary

    August 16, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Democrats SUCK!

  • They deserve it

    August 16, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    Pluuuuez this is just a Janay and Reggie firebomb attempt. They got fired and need deal with it like adults. New incoming leadership brings their own team. Grow up and karma is a an MF-er

  • Andy madtes

    August 19, 2019 at 7:41 am

    At the end the day they could have hired David Axelrod and David Plouffe and unfortunately not even these top notch democratic strategist can get the dems back into the majority, because of gerrymandering and Dems losing elections in 2018. The supreme courts decision all but guarantee the Republicans will have majority for years to come.
    Let Evan and Bobby do their jobs so they can strategies on getting the highest turnout possible, so a democrat can win back the White House. If we pickup a few more house seats even better. The dems in house majority is not going to happen, the numbers are just not there!

  • Andy madtes

    August 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

    The dems could have hired David Plouffe , David Axelrod and not even these two top democratic strategists could not put the Dems in the Majority in the Florida House. The Dems election cycle in 2018 and the gerrymandering scheme have secured the majority for republicans for years too come. Also the supreme courts gerrymandering decision .

    Let Bobby and Evan do their job and work on getting the highest turnout possible so we can put a Dem back in the White House and if the dems pick up a few more house seats along the way even better!

Comments are closed.


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