For years, local Tallahassee elections have avoided the influence of national progressive groups with extreme positions. Previously, these groups have focused on larger metro areas like Austin, Seattle, and Portland.
However, during this election cycle Tallahassee voters are being targeted by groups that openly support the defund the police movement, attack capitalism, and label themselves as socialists.
The groups have endorsed local candidates, including Tallahassee mayoral candidate Kristin Dozier.
These groups have support from well-funded national non-profits that include The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD). In 2019 the CPD directed $36 million in funds to progressive state and local groups promoting various initiatives, including a program called Local Progress. Local Progress is CPD’s most prominent campaign, “an effort to pool policy ideas and activism from municipal councilors in America’s most liberal cities and spread them to more cities.”
Local Progress published a platform in 2016 that sought to influence the campaign of Hillary Clinton for President, emphasizing gun control, advancing left-wing labor and employment regulation, reversing school choice, and demanding environmentalist energy policy.
In addition, the CPD has also played a role in the debates surrounding policing reform and the Black Lives Matter movement. For example, CPD was involved in a 2015 Democracy Alliance-associated conference kickoff dinner strategizing on how progressives could fund the efforts of anti-police activists.
The Tallahassee Connection
Tallahassee mayoral candidate Kristin Dozier is embracing endorsements from these far-left progressive groups. On Dozier’s website, the endorsements of these groups are listed under a tab that states, ”Proudly Endorsed By.” These groups include Florida Rising and Florida For All. Dozier is also endorsed by the Dream Defenders.
It turns out that these three groups are also part of a Florida coalition funded, in part, by CPD. The Florida For All website states, “Since 2014, six Floridabased organizations — Florida Rising, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Faith in Florida, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Dream Defenders, and SEIU — have built a deep, long-term collaboration with each other across constituencies and geographies.”
Non-profit documents show that these groups have been funded by national left-wing organizations that include the CPD ($534,00) and the Tides Foundation ($2.3 million). Between 1998 and 2018, George Soros organizations have donated $32 million to the Tides Foundation.
In Tallahassee, these groups have picked out their preferred local candidates and have scheduled events to help with the respective campaigns. In addition to Dozier, Florida For All has endorsed Josh Johnson, who is running against Leon County Commission against incumbent Nick Maddox.
These groups have adopted extreme positions on several local issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the Tallahassee City Commission. For example, Florida Rising advocates for progressive positions related to housing and policing. The group states that “Housing is a human right not a profit tool for greedy landlords. We fight for safe affordable homes, rent control, and development that doesn’t displace us.”
A tweet – which now appears to be deleted – indicates Florida Rising supports replacing capitalism with socialism.
On policing, a statement on their website indicates the group is “For investing in our communities, not policing them.”
In addition, recently an open letter signed by 30 of Florida’s 67 county Sheriffs argue that Florida Rising is the largest Florida-based anti-cop group of its kind, deploying its infrastructure, resources and endorsements exclusively to like-minded Democrats up and down the ballot.
In July 2020, it was announced that the Sandler Foundation would be donating $200 million to “racial justice groups” in response to the 2020 Black Lives Matter Protests. New Florida Majority – which changed its name to Florida Rising in 2021 – was one of the eight grantees to receive funds that will help recipients advocate for leftwing policies in battleground states and create long-term constituencies that support these issues.
The Dream Defenders – another group that endorsed Dozier – states on their website that, “Dream Defenders are Socialists…..We are against Black capitalism because we believe that Black people as a whole will not be freed even if some of us have more money. “
The emergence of these groups, with financial ties to well-funded national progressive organizations, coincides with the rise in the local Tallahassee progressive movement. With the recent elections of Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter to the city commission, the progressive movement has become emboldened and more focused on electing like-minded local politicians.
The approach by the local progressive elected officials is to demonize law enforcement and cast local developers and business groups as dishonest. These views are consistent with the coalition of groups that are now interested in having an impact on Tallahassee elections.
It is clear that electoral success by this movement will result in local policies like those adopted in other progressive cities.
Dozier Remains Quiet About Endorsements
For her part, Dozier has accepted the endorsements from these groups without any public comment or acknowledgment of the extreme positions they represent.
The endorsements and their connections to national progressive organizations have also been ignored by the local media outlets.
Dozier’s silence on the endorsements will leave many voters guessing about her positions on the issues supported by these groups. However, the endorsements will also serve as a signal to a key local constituency that is critical to Dozier’s electoral fortunes in the upcoming election for mayor of Tallahassee