The Florida Democratic Party finally has a new website (and welcome to the 21st Century, by the way…) But TRR notice something missing from the visuals and message … can you guess what that is?
Clicking around the site, I found a few things that stood out. The first: from the moment you enter the site, it’s about Bill Nelson. That’s not surprising, since Nelson was the driving force behind the election of the current chairman, Rod Smith. Smith was who Nelson wanted, and he did what he needed to do, including personal phonecalls to potential opponents, to clear the way for Smith to take over from Karen Thurman. As one Democratic operative explained it to TRR at the time, it’s Nelson’s neck on the line in 2012, so it’s his decision, as the last man standing among statewide elected Dems.
Except that it isn’t just Nelson’s neck on the line. There’s a little something called the presidential election looming next year, too. But you won’t see Barack Obama on the Florida Democratic Party site.
You know who else you won’t find? Well for a clue, check out some of the other Democratic sites in battleground states. A few screen grabs should tell the story:
Here’s Wisconsin, where as in Florida, Democrats are fighting an extremist, right wing, anti-teacher/anti-union agenda:
Here’s Ohio, where the homepage URL defaults to a splash page:
Here’s Michigan, where the governor is pushing laws that give his appointed minions the autocratic power to abolish entire towns, just so he can break union contracts:
See a pattern?
Each of these other state parties are using their websites to go directly after their state’s tea party governor, and the opposition party’s extremism. Not so, Florida. Sure, there are some links on the site to anti-Scott or anti-GOP articles, including an op-ed by Chairman Smith, but does it strike anyone else as strange that Rick Scott’s hideous visage appears nowhere on the website, which seems more or less devoted to the person of Bill Nelson?
There are other state party sites that fete the state’s Democratic Senator. Michigan’s site has a send up to Debbie Stabenow’s re-elect, for instance. And some states focus more on local issues than not, as is the case with Arizona’s Democratic Party website. But with Arizona and other sites, you get a distinct message about Republicans pretty quickly off the matt (Arizona has a bit on Sarah Palin, and Nevada puts President Obama AND healthcare reform in its homepage image rotator.)
When I interviewed Chairman Smith last week, he made it clear he has no intention of positioning the party primarily bout Rick Scott, or in a “take our state back” mode. He wasn’t kidding.
Not to be too critical, since this is probably just the early phase (and lord knows TRR isn’t the perfect website,) but I do think the Florida Democratic Party’s site kind of shows where they lack manpower. New media and messaging might be two good places to start filling out the team. Clearly, the Obama re-elect will have its own web presence that will take things up a notch. And the DNC, DCCC and DSCC are also in the game. But the choice of not putting Rick Scott somewhere near the center of the online conversation strikes me as a strange choice to make, when Scott is at least as unpopular with Democrats (and independents) as the governors of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire and Indiana.
UPDATE: Kenny Quinnell’s take on the new digs
UPDATE 2/CORRECTION: The original post erroneously included the New Hampshire Democratic Party, rather than Maine.