Shevrin Jones: After bleak Election Day beating, it’s time for Democrats to work, not point fingers

‘Democrats have taken large swaths of the electorate for granted.’

While it wasn’t without some bright spots, Tuesday night was a largely depressing affair for Florida Democrats.

Races projected to come down to the wire, like the contest for Florida’s 27th Congressional District between incumbent Republican María Elvira Salazar and Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo, turned out to be blowouts for the GOP.

The edge Democrats long enjoyed in liberal strongholds like House District 106 appeared to have all but eroded.

Republicans didn’t just hold their longstanding majority in the Legislature. They won a supermajority in both chambers — controlling each by a two-thirds margin — with more money to spend, more registered voters to rely on and a higher rate of turnout at the polls.

Republicans were so successful, said Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones of Miami Gardens, because they’ve kept busy for years “building one of the most effective operations in the country,” while Democrats got complacent.

In a lengthy statement issued Wednesday, Jones took his party to task for its stagnancy, lack of focus and murky messaging. The Democratic Party and its leadership, including Jones himself, he said, “have fallen asleep at the wheel, letting the GOP control the narrative and gain more electoral ground.”

“The other side has played the long game: prioritizing an investing in a statewide infrastructure with real depth and breadth, drawing favorable maps, implementing consistent, concise messaging — and it’s paid off as they have gained control of every level of government,” said Jones, who won re-election to Senate District 34 in the Aug. 23 Primary.

“Meanwhile, Democrats have taken large swaths of the electorate for granted, chased the ‘shiny objects’ of the day from a messaging standpoint — oftentimes landing on disjointed, tone-deaf themes — empowered by the same few consultants despite loss after loss, and failed to build a sustained presence and organization in communities across the state. The result? Thirty years of GOP control and a staggering affordability crisis that is unsustainable.

“Florida Democrats too will need to do the work and play the long game if we hope to change course in the foreseeable future. It’s unproductive to point fingers, particularly because these are not single-cycle problems. There is no magic wand to wave when it comes to candidate recruitment, organizing infrastructure, voter registration, or issue platform. Above all else, we must do a better job of hearing, acknowledging, speaking to, and responding to the very real challenges facing Florida families each and every day.”

Working Floridians are “understandably anxious” about the state’s property insurance crisis, stagnant wages and skyrocketing rents, as well as prescription drug costs, inflation and getting their children a high-quality public education, Jones said.

Democrats have not held Republicans accountable on any of those issues, he argued, effectively giving the controlling party a pass on its “failed economic policies and lack of vision that have brought us to this dire moment.”

Democrats also haven’t done a sufficient job of building trust and articulating how they’ll fight for Floridians uneasy about the future and making ends meet, he explained. While residents in general are worried about the direction Florida is headed, he continued, “it is clear that the extremes of neither party are representative of the state as a whole.”

Of course, when just one party controls which laws get passed, only its extreme ideas become policy. Floridians are generally unhappy with that current arrangement, Jones said. He alluded to recently passed laws like the Parental Rights in Education law restricting classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual preference critics decry as discriminatory against LGBTQ people, the “Stop WOKE” Act prohibiting  so-called critical race theory in K-12 classrooms and workplaces, and the state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks without exceptions for rape and incest.

Those laws are unpopular among most Floridians, but they’re not necessarily what the general voter thinks about before casting his or her vote. But “pocketbook issues,” Jones said, are universal to everyone.

“Most Floridians disagree with extreme Republicans’ horrific attacks on our democracy and fundamental rights. But the reality is that most voters are not necessarily thinking about these issues when they are rationing insulin or filling up their gas tanks or at the store buying milk and bread,” he argued.

“That is why it is critically important that we rally around and nominate candidates representative of the communities in which they are running — people who are present, responsive, and accountable to said communities. People with non-traditional resumés who understand the struggles facing Florida families. People who are eager to serve, yet are too often deterred by the lack of institutional support or resources.

“There is undoubtedly a lot of introspection and listening needed over the coming days, weeks, and months as we chart our path forward. These challenges won’t be solved overnight or in one — or maybe even two — election cycles. This is going to take many of us to resolve; it will not be a one-person solution. But if we have any hope of overcoming, we cannot just give up. There’s too much at stake.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Denise Lasher

    November 9, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    Interesting no one is calling out the Democrat Party, particularly Sens Pizzo and Jones and Reps C. Smith, Raynor, for spending resources to take out incumbent Democrats in primaries because they did not vote with the caucus on issues that were important to their district. Money and resources that could have been spent keeping Democrat seats in the General. They will never learn.
    And until they understand that school choice wins elections they will continue to be in the minority in Florida.

    • Andy Madtes

      November 9, 2022 at 4:10 pm

      I could not agree more , some of the names you mentioned have been not been involved in Democratic politics until a few years ago. Never cared about the party nor did they ever help a democrat get elected.

  • tom palmer

    November 9, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    This statement could have been written 10 or more years ago. Florida Democrats have been incompetent in every way imaginable for a long time. Quit focusing on peripheral issues, attract inspiring candidates who are not retreads or outliers and find some younger talent.

  • Bruce Rodgers

    November 9, 2022 at 3:48 pm

    Democratic messaging was off base, to put it mildly. Crist pounded insurance rates not the lost of 80,000 deaths due to DeSantis Covid policies, and failed to hammer DeSantis’ CRT nonsense, anti-LGBTQ Republican policies, and lame environment and development regulation by the DeSantis administration. Crist failed to expound on the Trump/DeSantis division as a detriment to Florida governance. Demings’ law and order messaging was off base and her pro-choice opinions late in coming. DeSantis’ misleading and false “freedom” message was never attacked by either Crist or Demings.

  • Nate

    November 9, 2022 at 4:36 pm

    Democrats are road kill here in Florida. You really think you matter in this state? Not anymore. The fight is going to be in the Republican Party between the Trump faction, the DeSantis faction, the establishment as well as born against Republicans (those who are really Democrats). This election, the Florida Democrat Party, by supporting Charles Crist (R-I-D) showed all of us voters that you have no bench and no real support.

  • Calvin

    November 9, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    This is what happens when you have Democratic “leaders” who care more about drawing attention to themselves than solving real problems. The House was a foregone conclusion but the Senate should never have let Lauren Book take over as chair of Dem campaigns. She spent millions on herself and used all the manpower available during her primary, just to preserve her pathetic Senate career for another whopping 2 years. That is not leadership.
    Then she did nothing to help candidates who spent the General fighting for their lives, except for embarking on some silly “bus tour” that turned out to be a total joke and waste of time. Democrats should protest Book’s candidacy far into the future, for whatever she pursues next. She is a selfish idiot who gave her own party up.

  • Patti Lynn

    November 10, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    I cannot beat anyone up about the election, we all failed. We are Democrats, we are allowed to criticize each other, even though we KNOW that the Repubs will take our comments and use them against us. Slightly less than 50% of registered Democrats in Broward voted. 61% of registered repubs did. If we can’t motivate our people to vote, we will never win. I am old, but, I am willing to work harder to change our path.

  • It's Complicated

    November 11, 2022 at 10:38 am

    When registered Democrats are so uninspired by the message and the candidates that voters in DEEP BLUE counties don’t bother to vote, you have a HUGE problem. The Democratic Party continues to beat the drum for issues that the majority of voters could not care less about, or worse yet, they disagree with! If I were writing talking points and designing strategies on how to loose elections (based upon polling of public sentiment), it would look just like the Democratic Party playbook.

  • Frank

    November 15, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    The GOP changed maybe 100,000 Latin votes in Miami Dade alone by attacking Democrats as socialist/communists.on Spanish talk radio.
    From what I saw, there was NO Democratic attack on these lies
    THAT is the cause of the disastrous voting changes in Miami-Dade.

Comments are closed.


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