Today the Florida Democratic Party announced it is making a major, early investment in grassroots organizing and has hired field staff to build its statewide, year-round infrastructure earlier than ever before in a midterm cycle.
So far the party has hired seven regional field directors who will organize in every region of this state and will be expanding the team further and hiring organizers throughout the summer. These historic early investments in field organizing show a commitment to building the sustainable grassroots organizing systems needed to win in Florida.
“By investing early in statewide, grassroots organizing, we will meet Florida voters where they are now, not just 3 months before each election,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz. “To flip Florida blue we are building a long term, sustainable infrastructure, and deploying field staff all across Florida earlier than ever. Our field team is the heart of the foundation necessary to defeat Marco Rubio, Ron DeSantis, and Republicans up and down the ballot.
These hires are a part of a significant push to fully staff the Florida Democratic Party. Last week the party announced eight new senior staff members, including Jose Parra, former senior advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Latino communications advisor for President Obama’s 2012 reelection, to head its communications department. Rep. Angie Nixon, a Florida and national organizing veteran, also joined the organization ranks last week as Field and Organizing Director. The Florida Democratic Party will continue this push throughout the summer.
The regional field directors are:
Desmond Batts – Central West Region
Desmond is an organizer, environmentalist and has been fighting the good fight and winning social justice and political campaigns for over 10 years. As the lead organizer Desmond helped organize the 1st People’s Climate March in New York City. As a Field Organizer for two firms simultaneously, he was part of the team that passed minimum wage increases in both NY and CT. While working as an Organizing Director with independent groups Desmond helped pass Amendment 4 in Florida and personally helped register hundreds of returning citizens in Hillsborough County (Florida Votes/Florida Rights Restoration Coalition). As a Regional Organizing Director for a National Presidential Candidate responsible for the Tampa metro area, Desmond managed 2 offices and 26 field organizers. Desmond graduated from historic Hillsborough High School and went on to achieve a BA in Environmental Science from Goodwin University in CT.
Ric Gable – Central Panhandle Region
Ric has been involved with the Florida Democratic Party for many years and has served as Jackson County DEC Vice Chair and State Committeeman, and as FDP Small County Coalition Vice Chair. Ric’s electoral experience includes serving as Field Director for Congressman Al Lawson’s 2020 campaign, Regional Victory Center Coordinator for the Biden campaign, and as District Legislative Assistant to Senator Audrey Gibson. Ric is originally from Grand Ridge, Florida in Jackson County in the Florida panhandle. He is an alumnus of Marianna High School and Chipola College, and he graduated from Florida State University in 2020 with a BA in Political Science. Ric is currently continuing his studies at the graduate level at Florida State University.
Keith Hardy – West Panhandle Region
A native of Pensacola, Keith has been involved in Democratic politics in the panhandle for many years and has served the Florida Democratic Party as well as state and presidential campaigns in several field and community engagement roles. He previously served as Regional Organizing Director in the panhandle for the 2018 gubernatorial and senate races, as well as in 2020 on Joe Biden’s general election presidential campaign. He then joined Senators Ossoff and Warnock’s runoff coordinated campaign, working to get out the vote in pivotal Clayton County. Outside of candidate campaigns, Keith served as the FDP Community Engagement Director for the panhandle and was later promoted to Deputy Statewide Engagement Director. During Keith’s tenure with FDP, he has worked with staff, party leaders, and volunteers to develop an expanding Democratic infrastructure. As a result of efforts in the region, the western panhandle saw gains in Democratic vote margins of over five percent in the presidential election as compared to 2016. Moving forward, Keith is eager to manage voter registration efforts to expand the electorate and set Democrats up for success statewide in the 2022 midterm elections.
Ebony Hardy-Allen – Northeast Region
Ebony is a grassroots organizer, community advocate and campaign consultant, who has led and assisted with multiple grassroots initiatives throughout the State of Florida. Most recently, Ebony was a Member Engagement Coordinator for Color of Change. Ebony was Chief Administrative Officer and Program Director for The First Coast Leadership Foundation and My Vote Project and prior to that she also served as the program director for the New Town Success Zone Reading Program, a twofold program that served both students and parents. During the 2018 cycle Ebony was the Regional Field Director for Duval County for the Woke Vote organization on the Vote yes on 4 initiative to help restore the right to vote for Florida’s Returning Citizens. Outside of civic engagement, Ebony has spent over 20 years working in various corporate settings as a quality control internal auditor, and research analyst. She found her passion once she started serving her community, advocating for the voiceless, and helping her community stay civically engaged.
Rick Ibarria – Southeast Region
Rick brings thirty years of field sales and senior management experience from the corporate world. He worked for American Express and MasterCard International managing teams in Latin America and the Caribbean from Miami, as well as, three years managing the Asia-Pacific Region based in Sydney, Australia. He’s led and managed field sales forces ranging from 10 to over 2000 people over his career. Rick is an ardent supporter and defender of democracy and in 2017 became an active leader and contributor to a wide number of groups including the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, Rise Up Florida, Progressive Miami, the South Dade Democratic Club and the Blue Wave Coalition of Miami-Dade. Rick is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and has four graduate degrees in business (MBA), human resource development (MSHRD) and leadership (MS & MA) from NOVA Southeastern, Villanova and Gonzaga universities.
Jamie Jarvis – Central North Region
Jamie got his start in politics at the local level in rural Kansas where he organized and chaired the Coffey County Democrats. After graduating from Kansas State University in 2019 he went on to join Pete Buttigieg’s campaign in Nevada where he continued to organize in some of the most rural counties in the country. After the Nevada Caucuses he joined the Virginia Coordinated Campaign to ensure we protected vulnerable seats in the 2020 election. Since then, he has been a part of numerous campaigns including a district attorney race and Barbara Bollier’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
Drake Thomsen – Central Region
Drake has been organizing in the state of Florida since 2018, when he helped flip an Orange County Commission seat. After that, he trained with the DNC’s Organizing Corps 2020 and then went on to work for the Florida Democratic Party in Seminole County to contribute to the growing Democratic momentum in the area. Most recently, Drake was the Field & Political Director for Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy’s successful re-election campaign. Drake has a BA from the University of Central Florida where he studied Political Science.