This reporter spent a few minutes in a private room in the Tampa Convention Center where elected officials and prominent party members were mingling before being informed that the media wasn't allowed.
Before booted out, I was able to spend a few minutes talking to Sen. Rich, who during her speech rejected accusations that the state party was, "invisible and irrelevant." Here's most of that Q&A.
Nan Rich: I come from a very Democratic rich area in South Florida. Most of the district is Broward County, some of it is in Dade County, which is where I grew up. Very important to be in a lot of other places, I've been traveling up in the Panhandle, Duval, Bradenton, Orange County, everywhere ...
CL: You have to do that, right? Get yourself known throughout this big state?
NR: Yes, but it's interesting. Because I've served 12 years in the Legislature, I have a lot of networks of people with whom I worked over the years particularly in the children's area, women's issues, GLBT, developmentally disabled. There's just a lot of networks, and I also was the former national president of the National Council of Jewish Women, so we have sections all over the state so I'm going to work on all of those networks.
CL: With the passage of Amendments 5 and 6 last year (that was to insure fairer redistricting of the state's legislative districts), Democrats are hoping that will allow them to grow their ranks in Tallahassee. As you know, it's been disheartening for a lot of members for years.
NR: Part of it has been the redistricting issue. I do believe we'll pick up Senate seats this year. I only had 12 (as Senate leader) out of 40. But I thought we did a pretty good job this year. We stopped a lot of bad legislation by taking our 12 Democrats working across the aisle with eight or nine Republicans in each of the instances, whether it was prison privatization or the parent-trigger bill, or women's reproductive rights. So I think we were able to stop some things but obviously, we need to have a much larger presence in numbers.
CL: Do you agree that the GOP-led Legislature didn't push the boundaries on some issues like they did in 2011, perhaps concerned about the general election this year? That they went a little lighter-
NR: They didn't go lighter. This was a very right-wing agenda this year. Luckily as I said we were able to build coalitions to stop it. Believe me, the Republicans didn't think it was going to be stopped, because they didn't think we were going to be able to cross the aisle and pick up eight or nine - we picked up eight Republicans for parent-trigger, and then nine Republicans for the prison privatization. So we were able to stop both of those things. And then we were able to stop the very bad abortion bill from coming out of committee and on to the floor.
CL: Speaking of abortion, your thoughts on Amendment 6?
NR: It takes away the privacy right that's in our Constitution today. We are very fortunate to have that in our state constitution and I certainly don't want to see that removed and have a situation where women are going to be blocked from being able to make the determination with their own bodies in these very private matters. So I really believe that amendment is not going to pass. Because you have a lot of people working against it and women do really see this as a war on women. You know what? Get over it, leave women alone. Let them make the decisions. Women are smart enough to make the decisions that are right for them and their families and the Legislature and legislators should not be involved in that decision.
That was Sen. Nan Rich, the only declared Democrat in the race for governor in 2014. Alex Sink, Charlie Crist and Rod Smith, all purported possible gubernatorial candidates as well, also attended Saturday night's dinner in Tampa.