Florida Democrats suspend face-to-face field work, ask staff to work remotely

Coronavirus outbreak shutting down traditional campaign operations.

The Florida Democratic Party is suspending all face-to-face voter contact efforts and taking other steps to reduce in-person contact amid concerns of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The party leadership met Sunday night and approved a wide-ranging list of measures including postponing all meetings that would attract 50 or more people, and instructing staff to work remotely.

“The Florida Democratic Party shares the concerns of our fellow Floridians and the entire country and we join with our communities to work to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the party stated in a release issued Monday morning.

“While we have taken measures to stay safe, the Florida Democratic Party, our staff of more than 100 employees and our 12,000+ active volunteers will not stop campaigning, but we will begin to change the nature of our campaign efforts in light of the public health reality,” the release continued.

“This election is as critical as any in our lifetimes and we are committed to electing Democrats in the state and defeating Donald Trump in 2020,” the party announcement added.

Among new measures, the Florida Democrats have:

— Halted face-to-face voter contact and will shift all campaign organizing efforts from in-person work to virtual work.

— Announced it will encourage campaigns to do the same.

— Postponed the Democratic County Chairs Association Conference until further notice.

— Postponed all events of 50 or more people, and FDP staff has been advised to avoid all events of 50 or more people for the foreseeable future.

— Closed the FDP Tallahassee office and the Fort Lauderdale headquarters to meetings through at least the end of March. Only credentialed personnel and party leaders will be permitted access to the buildings.

— The Florida Democratic Party has its congressional district caucus scheduled for April 4 (with some counties providing early voting on April 2) to elect 148 district level delegates. This process is under review and party officials are working with the Democratic National Committee to evaluate options for a safe election.

— FDP staff will be working remotely.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our community, so out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to postpone events and shift to digital means of voter contact for the time being,” FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo stated in the release. “We have a critical upcoming election and we will continue our work in full force online to reach voters and turn Florida blue.”

Note: The Florida Democratic Party issued an updated release indicating that the maximum for meetings is 50 in compliance with CDC recommendations, not the previously reported 25.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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