Sunday, February 19, 2006


It's no secret that in recent years many rural counties, mainly in North Florida, have seen a strong support for Republican candidates, although their voter registrations have continue to show a hugh majority of Democrats.

Yesterday at Lake Buena Vista state Democratic leaders, including U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, gathered to discuss how the party can inprove it's chances in the midterm elections. Winning back the hearts of those crossover voters in rural areas will have to be a major part of that effort.

In several of those counties, there is not a significant party organisation in place functioning. Also, the traditional liberal message on issues such as gun control and gay rights laws do not resonate with the vast majority of rural voters, who tend to be strongly conservative.

"You can't use liberal Democratic messages in rural counties and expect to be successful," said Rhett Bullard, the party's state committeeman for Hamilton County. "People will label you a fanatic and you'll be out there. You'll just be a liberal nut."

And of paticular concern is the Democrats' floundering influence in the African-American community, and in it's churches.

"We are hemorrhaging in the African-American church because we aren't embracing our faith enough in their eyesight," [State Representative Frank] Peterman said. "We seem to be afraid to mention God, while the Republicans openly mention him."

Also speaking at the event were State Senator and Attorney General candidate Skip Campbell (D - Taramac) and former gubernatorial candidate Betty Castor, who both press their campaigns for an independent body who would redraw legislative and congressional boundries.

We still have a lot of work to do, and cannot simply rely on the GOP's meltdown to gain ground.


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