Saturday, December 06, 2008

Blue America Welcomes Ken Quinnell, A Blogger Running For State Committeeman In Florida


Ken Quinnell is running for a Florida State Committee position. Many of us feel like we know him, not because we've gone down to Florida to meet Ken but because we read his blog, the Florida Progressive Coalition blog. But he was endorsed by an old friend and colleague of mine, Andrew Gillum, a Tallahassee City Commissioner and one of the leaders of People For the American Way's Young Elected Officials.

Aside from being a blogger and activist, Ken is a political science professor, a poet, a fiction writer, a husband and a dad (3 young sons). And he lives in a state with one of the most dysfunctional local Democratic parties anywhere. He means to do something about it. Although Obama won in Florida (4,143,957 to 3,939,380), Ken was disappointed because he-- like many of us-- felt Democrats could have had a far better election day. If you count defeated ex-Republican Tim Mahoney as a Democrat, there was only one net congressional pickup (with Suzanne Kosmas and Alan Grayson both ousting GOP incumbents), and there was just one net gain in the state legislature.
And a number of great candidates that many of you are familiar with-- Joe Garcia, Annette Taddeo, Doug Tudor-- lost. One of the key reasons for these losses, from what I can tell, is the incessant infighting in the state party. There is still significant stranglehold on many local parties by the good old boy network and there are factions in the state party who are constantly undercutting other Dems both in the party and electorally.

Ken is running for state committee man in the hope of changing some of this. He's running, in part, on a platform that stresses his experience with blogging, BlogTalkRadio and other Netroots groups and tools. His opponent will be familiar to those of you who paid attention to the primary mess in Florida-- Jon Ausman. Many in Florida politics think Ausman's a symbol of all that is wrong with the party. He is constantly involved in undercutting other party members to further his own agenda and if you watched his presentation to the DNC, you could tell that he's much more about promoting Jon Ausman than he is about moving America or Florida forward. He's still suing the DNC over the primary and he endorsed Hillary Clinton after Barack Obama won the nomination in the name of "unity." It will be a tough race, but Ken is picking up some pretty big endorsements from local elected officials that give him a legitimate shot.

And he's been very busy; he's the president and founder of the Florida Democratic Party Netroots Coalition, the adviser to the Tallahassee Community College Democrats, president of the Leon County Young Democrats, a Leon County Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman and the chairman of the Leon Democratic Party Rapid Response Committee-- above and beyond being a blogger and online activist since 1998.

The election is Monday and Ken will be joining us for a discussion this afternoon at 2pm (EST) at Firedoglake.

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