The “Consultant Class” Files: Part 1

The Florida Democratic Party is in a bad way.

2018 was supposed to be the year of the comeback for Democrats. And for many across the country it was. Democrats won damn near forty (40!) seats in the House, despite demographic segregation and Congressional maps being segregated to hell. They picked up seven governor’s mansions. They took control of six state legislatures. These weren’t all just instances of taking back territory lost in 2010; they won the governor’s race in Kansas for crying out loud. The conventional wisdom regarding modern Kansas is that even Dorothy is a Republican (despite her own well-documented experience as an illegal foreign refugee).

But then, even Kansas is not Florida. As the election drew to a close the FDP was expecting some measure of power. Both Gillum and Nelson were leading by close but not typically Florida close margins in at least some polls. Trump was and is somewhat unpopular. Rick Scott, so they told the electorate, was the face of evil, and they were confident people agreed. There was an environmental crisis in the form of red tide, and surely voters would blame that on Republicans.

And yet despite all that everything came crashing down. It turned out the whole show was Florida close and yet again it did not break Democrats’ way. I will get into why in another series, but let us for now just say that Democrats in Florida keep losing and they don’t seem to know the reason.

Enter the Florida Squeeze, a high quality blog and my personal go-to source for intra Democratic party drama in Florida. Dave Trotter wrote an article recently that slammed what he called the “Florida Democratic Cosa Nostra,” describing the party as really just a cabal of hipster consultants in it for the money that could care less if they win because hey, at the end of the day the bank still accepts their clients’ checks.

This immediately made me wonder: who the hell are these people? When they order at Starbucks, would I recognize them by mispronounced name? Or, more realistically, would I be able to identify them by looking at which Florida Democrats have prospered amongst the destruction?

Now I’m not well versed on which consultants qualify for “consultant class” status, but I can tell you which consultants I would look at first if I wanted to (either conveniently or honestly) blame someone. That’s what this series is about, folks. Evil Democrat hipster consultants.

My first candidate would be Christian Ulvert and company at Edge Communications, a consulting firm that has among its listed clients Andrew Gillum as well as more “establishment” Dems like Dan Gelber (Ulvert managed Gelber’s unsuccessful attorney general campaign) and Dave Aronberg. Ulvert is not only head of a consulting firm, but a former FDP political director. Last year, when Terrie Rizzo became chair of the party, Ulvert supported her (he was running Phillip Levine’s campaign at the time, another expedition that did not go so well).

Edge Communications also has a record that’s concentrated in the Miami area, and Miami-Dade has been a sore spot among Democrats for years as they consistently overestimate the solid blue area’s turnout and consistently fail to improve that turnout every election cycle. So Ulvert, while not the most controversial pick on my list, would be my first candidate for who belongs in the “consultant class” bucket.

Ulvert touches all the bases as far as Trotter’s definition of the consultant class. Miami oriented, head of a firm with a penchant for selecting losing candidates who “have potential” at the start, and someone who’s seen most of the revolving door of FDP leadership. The question is, did Ulvert learn from 2018? Democrats in Florida can only hope.

In part 2 of the series, we’ll take a look at the next set of insiders to make the cut.

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