“Are you sure Florida is the best place for us to be campaigning?” GPaul understandably asked me several weeks ago.
“No.” I replied honestly. “But I do believe it is the best place stop Trump in 2020.”
Some months ago I learned about Amendment 4. There are 1.5 million adult Florida citizens who can not vote because they were in prison. Florida is unusual for blocking citizens who have paid their debt to society from voting. Only 4 states (sadly including Virginia) maintain this racist policy, because a disproportionate number of incarcerated persons are people of color, especially African Americans. Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution would restore these voting rights.
We trained yesterday with the Hard Knocks/SEIU crew in Tampa. Kevin lived in Venezuela until 18 months ago and had not spoken English in his life. Now he is a trainer and office manager for SEIU, getting crews ready to hit the streets or phone bank for these elections as needed. Clearly a quick study, his English was certainly strong enough to train us on the script, throw some curve balls at us, teach us how to use our tablets and the MiniVan program and get us dressed in our bright blue canvass shirts.
While I was not sure two months ago Florida was the best place to campaign, now I am.
While we are fairly confident the Democrats can wrestle control of the US House of Representatives from the Republicans, flipping the Senate is much less likely. The Florida race for the US Senate this year is one of the most critical ones.
One of the most contentious Senate races pits incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson against outgoing Florida Governor Rick Scott. While the most recent polls show Nelson’s lead shrinking, increased spending and GOTV efforts appear to be holding Nelson’s thin lead. While this race does not bring the Democrats closer to taking control, because it is already held, losing this seat would virtually guarantee the Republicans would maintain control. Scott is a kleptocratic Trump Republican, famous for slashing VA benefits while enriching himself. He reversed his campaign promise and cut 750K people from Medicaid and then privatized it for significant profit for himself and his friends.
Gillum was elected Mayor of Tallahassee in 2014, at the age of 35. This summer, he won an upset victory where he was seriously outspent in the Democratic primary for Governor this year and is narrowly favored to beat Trump Republican DeSantos. He is a self-described progressive and has a platform similar to that of Bernie Sanders. Sanders has campaigned for Gillum.
While we were canvassing, Gillum was clearly the most popular personality we spoke with voters about. Charismatic, progressive, young, and good looking, Gillum has drawn support from many corners of this diverse state. He holds a narrow lead in the state polls for this race.
With a referendum which may well decide the 2020 presidential election, a hotly contested must-win Senate seat for the Democrats and a Sanders Governor’s candidate running against a terrible Trump clone, Florida is the place to be right now!
We are trying to grow our team and your generous contribution would make that be possible. If you think these races and rights are important, but can’t make it to Florida, please help these gifted organizers and activists be the hands knocking on doors for you.