Florida Democratic Party (FDP) Chairperson Manny Diaz on Jan. 9 resigned from office, calling the defeats in the 2022 election cycle “the final nail in the coffin.”
“After much reflection, I regret to inform you that I have chosen to retire as FDP Chair, effective immediately,” Diaz wrote in a letter to fellow Democrats. “It has been a pleasure and honor to work with you, and, rest assured, I will continue to fight with you to get Democrats elected.”
Diaz, who was mayor of Miami from 2001 to 2009, was elected as the chair of the Florida Democratic Party in January 2021, following disappointing results in the 2020 general elections. His departure comes after Republicans swept every statewide race on the 2022 ballot.
In the race for governor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won re-election by a margin of 19 percentage points over Democratic challenger Charlie Christ, even winning historically Democrat strongholds such as Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County.
Republicans also secured a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature following the November elections, with 85 seats in the 120-member House and 28 seats in the 40-member Senate.
Florida is also sending more Republicans in its congressional delegation to Congress after the midterms, after sweeping all five competitive House races. The makeup of the delegation is now a 20-8 Republican majority, up from a 16-11 Republican lead after the 2020 elections.
In the Senate race, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) rolled to a third term in office, defeating Democrat challenger Val Demings by 16 percentage points.
Under Diaz, Florida Republicans have surpassed Democrats in voter registration.
In his letter, Diaz said that Florida Democratic Party “has been rendered practically irrelevant to the election of Democrats,” adding that he had trouble securing funding, finding volunteers, and delivering effective messaging.
“We cannot win elections if we continue to rely on voter registration to drive turnout, build field operations only around elections, and expect to get our vote out without engaging voters where they live,” he wrote.
“During my tenure, I hoped to address these issues, and build a united party without silos, focused exclusively on our purpose—to elect Democrats,” he added. “Instead, I found obstacles to securing the resources and a longstanding, systemic and deeply entrenched culture resistant to change; one where individual agendas are more important than team; where self-interest dominates and bureaucracies focus on self-preservation.”
He also blamed Washington for the recent election losses.
“Washington continues to believe they are better equipped to determine our campaign strategy, target universe, messaging, staff hiring and firing decisions,” Diaz wrote.
He added, “My ‘choice’ to hire coordinated staff was no choice; my decision to replace underperforming staff midway through the campaign was rejected. Coordinated staff made it clear; they worked for Washington, not the FDP.”
Eventually, he said, “a broken, unsustainable system was exposed.”
“Maybe it is not always about trying to fix something that is broken. Maybe it is about starting over and creating something better,” he added. “I wish my successor Godspeed.”
After the Nov. 8 elections, there were multiple calls for Diaz to resign.
The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida issued a statement on Nov. 9 calling for Diaz’s immediate resignation.
“Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz, who two years ago promised everything, delivered on none of it. The results of this election are direct evidence of a vacuum in leadership that can not be allowed to continue,” the group wrote.
It added, “Chair Diaz never understood the electorate, the timely need for outreach, registration, and community participation. There was no outreach plan for FDP’s most reliable voters, including minorities, youth, and progressives.”
“If Chair Diaz has any decency, he will step down and let us build a state party that works for all Floridians,” the group concluded.
Days later, Diaz took to Facebook to say he intended to stay on in the position.
“I joined you in this mission to reverse the trends of the past 10-20 years. I am still committed to that end and refuse to give up when the going gets tough. That is not in my nature,” Diaz wrote. “I will continue to fight alongside you for the next two years and beyond.”
Thomas Kennedy, a Democratic National Committee member from Florida who has been calling for Diaz to resign, welcomed Diaz’s decision to step down.
“FL Dems can turn things around but it will take a long term plan, cohesive economic messaging that appeals to working people, year round voter registration, permanent offices offering tangible services to community members and electing down-ballot candidates to build a bench,” Kennedy wrote on Twitter on Jan. 9.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents District 42 in the Florida House, responded to Diaz’s resignation with some words of encouragement for her Twitter followers.
“I just want to remind everyone that we are each other’s keeper, & need to rebuild what it means to be a Democrat in Florida from the ground up,” she wrote.