Dan Lewis: Demo Boss Ceasar Needs To Retire

BY DAN LEWIS

Mitch Ceasar needs to retire, with our thanks.

Cynthia Busch, an accomplished grass-roots organizer and Democratic Area Leader is challenging Ceasar on December 9th for the position of Chair.  She should win, as much for her campaign skills as for her ability to bring people together.

Although it is true that a candidate should win on their own merits and not on the failures of their opponent, Ceasar has much to answer for in his 16 years as chair of Broward Democrats.  During this time, the county has demographically, ethnically and economically changed but under Mitch – the Democratic Party has not.   Registered Independent voters living in single family neighborhoods hold the key to elections, not condos.  This is becoming true even for primary elections.  Broward County’s population is now larger than seven (7) states, and 92 countries & territories sending teams to the Olympics.

There are those that would argue that a change in Democratic leadership is all about turnout percentages.  This is not true.  Turnout and turnout dilution is a natural result of population growth.  Even more so when the population changes demographically and ethnically.

While one of the purposes of any political party is to win elections – it is not the only purpose.  Recruiting, training, and financing those members who share the party’s core values is critical for the long term health of any political party.

Ultimately, it is the candidate that must win elections – but the party must participate.  Under Caesar’s leadership, unlike his predecessor – the local party rarely if ever recruited, trained or raised money for candidates and typically left GOTV (get out the vote) efforts to the clubs and active club presidents.  In the few instances where the local party spent money on behalf of Democrats – it was, at best, a lack-luster effort.  While Busch’s ability to raise money is unknown, her ability to recruit, train and support candidates on the ground is both well-known and unmatched.

Cynthia Busch

The position of party chair is unpaid and voluntary, and takes a considerable amount of time.  It is both predictable and perhaps even inevitable that one’s profession could become inextricability intertwined over time.  It was true for Caesar’s predecessor Russ Barakat (who went to jail for it), and its true for Caesar’s lobbying business.  For Ceasar, the conflict between his business interests and his political avocation has been challenging and over the years has been at some personal cost.  In contrast, Cynthia Bush has no business or professional conflicts with the job of Chair which would only need to share its demands with the needs of her young and beautiful children – an entirely Democratic value.

There is an important style difference between Ceasar and Busch.  Over the years, Caesar’s style has gotten him into public difficulty more than once including allegations of harassment, dirty politics, influence peddling and party Snubs.  Add to that Caesar’s exclusionary leadership style compared with Busch’s inclusionary abilities is a significant argument for Democrats to support Busch.  But Caesar’s inability to keep pace with a new Broward should be judged in a historical context.  When Ceasar took over from Barakat as Broward’s Democratic boss – condo’s ruled.  Divisive infighting between competing Democratic clubs was the rule and some order was needed.  In the early years, and in transition from Baracat strong arm “Boss” style based on overbearing personal strength to, what at the time would be called more open and inclusionary, was Caesar’s early success.

Mitch Ceasar

But his early success in the condos gives way to his failure to adapt with the times and diminishes much of his legacy of good will he has remaining.  This is perhaps endemic of being in office too long.  Nowhere does this become more apparent than his failure to utilize agile, ever changing and popular online technologies in the Party’s outreach, grassroots, and message strategies.  In stark contrast, Cynthia Busch and her “Team Broward” and “Broward Blues” organization successfully utilized not only social media but also messaging technologies in the massive Democratic grass roots efforts in the 2012 election cycle.

Someone smarter than me observed that the strength of the political party structure is in its ability to be a relay race as opposed to a marathon.  When party leadership fails to train, install successors and adapt with the times – the party atrophies and fails.  Sadly, that is the story of the Broward County Democratic party under Ceasar.  Mitch Ceasar needs to retire, with our thanks and Cynthia Busch should be elected and reminded not to stay too long.

(Daniel Lewis is a veteran Broward community activist and political consultant to local, state and national campaigns.  A former Miramar city commissioner, former Chair of Broward County Management & Efficiency Advisory Committee and former Chair of Broward County Charter Review Committee, Lewis is the owner of the Fort Lauderdale-based owner of Strategic Technologies & Research Inc.)

 



16 Responses to “Dan Lewis: Demo Boss Ceasar Needs To Retire”

  1. Ellen Christopher says:

    T-014 (precinct in Davie) is ready to elect Cynthia Busch. In the last year she has done so much to motivate all the Democrats in Davie and nearby municipalities! Way to Go, girl! All you people who are eligible to vote for her, DO IT!

  2. Andrew Markoff says:

    Thank you, Dan Lewis.

  3. Crabgretch says:

    Attention All Broward County Precinct Committeewomen and Precinct Committeemen”, thanks for reading “Dan Lewis” Demo Boss Ceasar Needs to Retire”. His remarks about Mitch retiring are so true!

    The Broward County Democratic Party needs Cynthia Busch as the next DEC Chair. Anyone who worked on the Obama Campaign and other local campaigns can attest to Cynthia working right along with us registering voters, canvassing, phone banking, and using her home as a staging area throughout the campaign. And in Cynthia’s spare time, she is a wife and a mother of 2 beautiful children! One more thing, Cynthia never takes credit for her hard work, but she praises, encourages, and motivates other who worked tirelessly.

    Remember Precinct Committee People join me in voting for Cynthia Busch, Broward County DEC Chair. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

    Thanks!

  4. Ironic says:

    In a 1996 Buddy Nevins article, Mitch Ceasar is quoted as criticizing ousted Chair Russ Barakat for hand-picking his cronies for precinct captain positions and discouraging others from running for those seats.

    But as Barakat’s successor, Mitch Ceasar has done exactly the same thing himself, and Ceasar has also taken this approach much farther with his very own unethical tactics and corrupt practices.

    Obstructing and denying the voting rights of Randy Fleischer, Siobhan McLaughlin, etc. is sadly typical of the appalling abuses routinely perpetrated by Mitch Ceasar, who cares only about himself!

    ~~~~~~~
    http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1996-08-15/news/9608140542_1_precinct-committee-democratic-party-new-precinct

    Democrats race to shake up precinct committee posts
    by Buddy Nevins
    August 15, 1996

    [...] Barakat, now out on bail while awaiting 21 months in prison on a conviction for income tax fraud, used to discourage any opposition to his handpicked candidates [for precinct captain positions].

    [...] Mitchell Ceasar [said] “When Barakat was here, there was no incentive to bring new people in, because they would just rock the boat” [...]

  5. Retire on Top says:

    There is no dishonor in retiring when one can declare victory and leave on top. (of course, we KNOW that the Obama Campaign and OFA intentionally decided to work OUTSIDE and without the DEC structure due to disfunctional nature and predictable ineptitude. Cynthia was the exception. She was running the area like the operation should be with volunteers and real efforts. Cynthia did NOT go on speaking tour afterwards trying to take credit. We have SO much to worry about in the next election. We can NOT have another Alex Sink result where local efforts were pathetic and lacked any imagination. Need to get in the modern age with social media, database coordination, recognition of real changes in demographics, electronic management of neighborhood analysis, development of the next generation of elected officials, and meaningful get out the vote). Turnout in Broward for the Presidential election was amazing on your watch. (of course, we KNOW you and the DEC had nothing to do with the turnout. OFA appartus and coordination with hundreds of volunteers made the difference. Cynthia was one of the exceptions, out there finding more volunteers and using her time to find staging areas). There is difficult change ahead, and you should not have to take blame from your friends for what needs to happen. (of course, you should have initiated that change long ago, and realized the changing nature of the county, away from purely the Glasser-style DEC and old guard to the young and diverse population of the county. Wrestling the DEC from that old guard structure should have started long ago and the difficulty coming is your fault).

    Always better to retire after winning the Super Bowl (of course, we KNOW you and your assistant coaches were most inept in their play calling, and the voters were the real heroes, combined with OFA working to call the the real plays). Congratulations and we will always remember you as the one who was Chair in one of the most amazing election cycles in recent memory (though we will never think you had much to do with it).

  6. Been around says:

    Intereting who knew Lewis was such a Party guy. For those that have been around long enough, we all know Dan does not do anything for free. I would venture to guess if Busch wins Strategic Technologies will take over the email, prodcuing of campaign lists etc for the DEC. This is not a knock on Dan’s talent, just those of us who have known him for years know the only thing he cares about is getting paid.

  7. Frankly Frisky says:

    Been Around knows the score. Lewis is in business and there must have been an arrangement between him and Barbara Miller and Cynthia Busch for the future.

  8. The Truth says:

    The Truth is that Mitch Ceasar can ONLY win his own race. This election was over in August when Busch failed to get enough precinct committeepeople who would vote for her elected. Ceasar would have quit if he didn’t have the votes. The Truth is that Ceasar will win reelection.

  9. Secret Blogger says:

    The only way I will support Dan’s endorsed candidates is if he 1) shows us how much he made as a kickback on the palm cards they had printed, and 2) if he and Cynthia Busch agree that Dan Lewis will not be involved in any races in Broward County where the party is involved, and if he does, does not receive any fees or kickbacks from the vendors.

  10. Elroy John says:

    Well said, Dan.

  11. Vindictive from Day 1 says:

    http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1996-12-02/news/9612010251_1_mitchell-ceasar-barbara-effman-democratic-party

    Lawyer Takes Over Broward Democrats
    By BUDDY NEVINS Staff Writer
    December 2, 1996

    Lawyer-lobbyist Mitchell Ceasar was elected Broward’s new Democratic Party boss on Sunday [...] Ceasar’s power will come from patronage, his ability to advise Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles on whom should be appointed to judicial posts and other positions. [...] Voters were required to sign their ballots, which means that Ceasar will know every person who voted for him and against him. Party activists say they expect him to move quickly against his opposition, robbing them of party posts and ending any chance that they will get future party appointments. [...] Ceasar said his campaign cost about $5,000 of his own money [...]

  12. Broward Lawyer says:

    Nice approach by the Ceasar/Glasser sycophants, attack, attack, attack. Sadly, the election is rigged in Ceasar’s favor, Unless!!! Unless the precinct committee people have a conscience and vote Ceasar out.
    what a difference Cynthia Busch would make.

  13. jane says:

    The precinct people need to be there to show strength, but everyone knows the election is rigged and no one but Mitch’s slate has a shot at giving the DEC respectibility What will happen for 2014 is that the
    Team Broward people will be the ones to GOTV and do all the work, while Mitch and his cronies once again try to take all the credit.

  14. Buddy Take A Look says:

    Buddy, you’ve been consistently skeptical of the many reports from Democratic activists about Ceasar’s scummy behavior, dismissing them as them mere “allegations” even when they are actually affidavits (legal evidence created under penalty of perjury).

    Instead of dissing many dozens of mutually consistent eyewitness accounts, why not cover Ceasar’s next usurpation yourself?

    Take pictures for your blog of the armed police officers (!!!) that Ceasar will use to prevent anyone from seeing the “vote-counting” behind the floor-to-ceiling curtain.

    Watch as Ceasar usurps the Chairmanship yet again while making sure that the ballots instantly disappear and thus can never be independently verified.

    Then compare that to Ceasar’s hypocritical 2000 election live TV statements about the fundamental nature of the right to vote in a free and fair election.

  15. LOL says:

    @Secret Blogger,

    Mitch, is that you?

    How very much like an insider to attack the person instead of the substance.

    Secret Blogger, if you have any interest in the Democratic Party, rather than personal sniping, then why don’t you respond to Dan’s very articulate comments?

    We’re all waiting!

  16. In re Secret Blogger says:

    Secret blogger is most likely Judy Stern, she has been trying to find a live body to sue the YD’s over this card and find out how it was paid for.

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