A Q&A on Candidate Recruitment:
Perspectives from Teresa Jenkins, Vice Chair of the Charlotte County Democrats and lead recruiter for candidates to run on the Democratic ticket in our local elections
Question: What’s being done now to prepare for the 2020 election?
Jenkins: We are gearing up and are excited and enthused. Early this year, we created a strategic plan to squarely focus on activities to further the goal of winning key races in 2020. Our team of stellar volunteers is calling all Democrats and NPAs (no-party affiliation) voters with an expired VBM (vote-by-mail) ballot. We are also contacting all Democratic voters who don’t reliably vote in every election; recruiting for more precinct captains now to ensure we have every precinct covered by a captain by next year; hosting Town Hall events to get to know our voters and for them to get to know us; conducting a candidate recruitment campaign to ensure a challenge to all races and conducting voter registration drives.
Question: What seats will be open in 2020?
Jenkins: In 2020, every constitutional office will be on the ballot plus state representative, state senator and representative in Congress for District 17. Also, Marco Rubio is up for re-election. There are others seats including Property Appraiser and Soil and Water Conservation on the ballot too and, in Punta Gorda, we have a potential 2019 city council race. In short, there seems to be something for everyone!
Question: Do you ever feel discouraged given that there are more registered Republicans than Democrats in our county.
Jenkins: Not really. But I’m a realist and believe that the key to our success is to work hard to get our message out. And we Democrats do have a better message so that is encouraging. We have a lot of NPAs who will vote democratic and we are including our NPA voters in our canvassing and phone banking as well as town halls and candidate recruitment.
Question: If someone reading this wants to run for office, what should they do? What are the costs?
Jenkins: Talk to us. We’ll walk you through the process and determine the kind of campaign you want to run. We cannot endorse any candidate prior to the primary (that is a statewide Florida Democrats rule) but after the primary, we will canvass for you and do phone banking. The qualifying fees vary by local, state and national – in many cases, a certain number of signatures can be collected in lieu of qualifying fees. [For more on running, go here https://charlottedems.com/candidates/]
Question: What are you most excited about? Worried about?
Jenkins: I’m excited because we do have better messages and policy proposals. We are the party that believes in good education, making one’s own health choices, affordable housing, available and affordable health care, clean air and clean water, living wages and have a strong platform to protect the environment, which is so key to the life we enjoy here in Florida. My worries? I fear that the other party is intent on eroding women’s rights, that we are on the brink of an economic downturn with a record deficit and that global climate change is not being recognized as a reality. It’s also distressing that Republicans are planning on reducing funding for Social Security & Medicare, want to turn Medicaid over to the states which will translate into limited funding for the working poor. While seas keep rising in Florida, the other party is focused on arming school teachers. I’m concerned that getting back to civility will be very difficult with the us/them divisiveness we see in politics and in overall society just now. But know that Dems have solutions. The 2020 elections will be critical to seniors, young people, working people, minorities, women – virtually all of us. It’s going to be a very decisive moment in time.