Social Science Scholar: Florida Democratic Politics

This past summer, I worked in Florida Democratic politics with the Florida Democratic Party as an intern, Florida College Democrats as the Director of Political Affairs, and FSU College Democrats as President. These positions were all based out of Tallahassee and were centered around organizing Democrats across the state for the elections in 2019, 2020 and years to come. All three of these roles have continued through the fall semester as the work continues to organize Democrats on college campuses across the country and to build institutional capacity for the Democratic Party going into important elections up and down the ballot.

FSU College Democrats Fall 2019 Kickoff Meeting

Individual projects defined my different roles this summer and I worked with various stakeholders in each organization to accomplish the work. In my internship with the Florida Democratic Party (FDP), I was assigned two main projects: municipal election research and elected official research. This all was in addition to assisting the Party’s big move from an older, rented office to a newly renovated, owned office in Downtown Tallahassee. Municipal election research included digging through public records on county and municipal elections all over the State of Florida and compiling information. The hope is that this compilation will prove helpful for potential candidates by reducing the barriers to run for office as much of the information was not readily available. For my second project, I compiled information on elected officials that would assist the Party and its partner organizations in building legislative coalitions for certain policies going into the 2020 legislative session. During this internship, I also helped with the move between offices and with sorting through the delegate forms for the 2019 FDP State Convention. This internship continued through the end of the fall semester.

My two other positions in Florida Democratic politics were through College Democrats. Since April, I have served as the President of the College Democrats at FSU. As President, I have led a team of extraordinarily ambitious students who are working to increase the voter turnout at Florida State University especially among Democratic voters. To date, we have produced a first ever organizational action plan, increased membership numbers, registered several hundred voters, improved our weekly event programming, and set in place a number of reforms to make organizing FSU in 2020 easier. My term as President continues through April 2020 and I plan to continue growing the organization’s presence on campus as we approach the Florida presidential preference primary in March 2020 and the general election in November 2020. Since June of this year, I have served as the Director of Political Affairs for Florida College Democrats. With a diverse team of students from across the State of Florida, I have been able to oversee one of the most productive FCD political teams in the organization’s history. We have produced a statewide field plan with targeted field goals, specially designed commit to vote cards for the organization’s 25 chapters across the State, a lobbying plan for the 2020 Florida legislative session, and a number of resources that empower individual chapters to better organize their college campuses for Democrats. My team has also put together a fantastic group of caucus chairs to organize various communities on specific issues such as education and the environment. College Democrats are energized across the state and I am continuing to work hard to empower them to have the most impact in their communities.

AIPAC Bipartisan Allies Mission, group photo on top of Mount Masada

My 2019 summer was also full of a variety of experiences through my positions in the Democratic Party. In July, I attended the 2019 Netroots Nation conference in Philadelphia, PA where I networked with progressive activists from across the country. It was around this same time that I was invited to go on the 2019 AIPAC Bipartisan Allies Mission to Israel as a leader within College Democrats. Programming on this trip presented a variety of perspectives among the Israel-Palestinian conflict and I learned an incredible amount about the regional conflict. I continued my education on the topic by attending the J-Street Conference in Washington, DC. My leadership roles within the Florida College Democrats also took me to the College Democrats of America (CDA) summer convention in New Orleans, LA and the FDP State Convention. At these events, I networked with other leaders within the Democratic Party from around the State of Florida and the country and strategized on how to flip Florida and the country blue in 2020.

Florida College Democrats with Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Being a 2019 Social Science Scholar provided me so many opportunities this past summer to advance my career in Democratic politics. This coming semester will be my last semester before graduation and I am in a position to soon accept a position in Florida politics. My future academic goals include obtaining a graduate degree in urban planning to eventually begin a career in urban planning / urban policy. Without the opportunities afforded to me through this program, my academic career would not have been furthered as much nor would I have had the opportunity to delve into learning about the US – Israel relationship. I am thankful to this program, and I will continue to apply the leadership lessons I learned through my experiences to future endeavors.

Nathan Davis is a political science and urban and regional planning student who hopes to make a positive impact by promoting sustainable and equitable social change. Since being in Tallahassee, Nathan has had the privilege of working on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the Florida Main Street program, Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign, NextGen America and the College Democrats at FSU.

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