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COLUMN

Happytown

The local Democratic machine gets a swift kick in the ass, a Food Not Bombs founder exchanges anarchist recipes and we take a look at the sports that happen when no sports are happening. It's a Happytown Thanksgiving!

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Ho, ho, hope! Just as we werebeing tied into our Happytown™ holiday straitjackets after double-checking our overtly selfish wish lists – we want things, because we have no things – news percolated out of the local politics ether that the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee had just received the best present it could hope for: a new leader. Do not yawn! At the organization’s Nov. 14 meeting, State Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, was unanimously handraised into the ultimate position of power for the struggling local Democratic machine, meaning that maybe, just maybe, things could take a turn for the better just in time for the big election year. Happy days are here again! Maybe.

“I think in the state of Florida, people were pretty beat up after the 2010 elections,” Randolph says, in reference to how the local Democratic party fell as far as it did. “Now that we’re refocusing on Obama, a lot of the resources have gone to the federal level. Without a program to which you can build donors, it’s difficult to do fundraising.”

Indeed. The most current OCDEC reports show that the committee was floundering as of Sept. 30, boasting just $15,447 in donations for the year, with $15,786 being spent (hello, deficit!). Compare that to the rival Orange County Republican Executive Committee’s sprawling $60,303 in contributions with just $33,678 spent and the great divide becomes a little obnoxious.

To remedy the problem, Randolph is aiming to get $10,000 in the coffers by the end of January, which, he says, should go some way toward convincing candidates that they need to run in local and state races because the party is happening. He’s also suggesting a dramatic overhaul of the sort of sad OCDEC structure – seriously, sitting through one of those meetings is like being in the blandest Family Ties Thanksgiving fight ever – and making things a little less demented and sad and a little more social. Is this a nod to Randolph’s old days as a fighting leader in the boozy Young Democrats? Or, rather, does this make him an aging Young Democrat?

“Maybe so,” he laughs. “People who are interested in politics don’t want to come out and listen to committee reports and people arguing.”

But they do want action,says local firebrand (and long ago OCDEC chair) Doug Head. Randolph is taking the place of too-polite former house candidate Amy Mercado, who resigned so that she could focus on her day job.

“It’s good. We need leadership, and Scott’s in a position to provide it,” Head says. “Unfortunately, Amy was ambitious but didn’t realize what obligation she was undertaking.”

Moreover, both Head and Randolph agree that repurposing the local party right now – amid the crashing plates of redistrictingon both a state and county level – is crucial, especially considering the Hispanic outrage at the short ethnic shrift that they’re getting from Republican leaders who, says Randolph, are just waiting to get sued in order to drag the process out longer. Also, Occupy! Randolph hopes to recruit two candidates for county commission seats and three for state house seats by the end of January. Now, if we could just figure out in which district they’ll be running.

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