Fri | Nov 22, 2019

No candidates in sight, but Florida Democrats energised

Published:Monday | October 14, 2019 | 12:28 AM
Attendees applaud as they listen to speakers during the Florida Democratic State Convention on Saturday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Attendees applaud as they listen to speakers during the Florida Democratic State Convention on Saturday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP):

Even with no presidential candidate in sight at their state convention on Saturday, Florida Democratic leaders said grass roots party members are energised to defeat United States President Donald Trump next year.

Party leaders admitted that in past years, they have started late in raising money and organising. But they promised that they aren’t repeating that pattern this election cycle.

“The fact that the candidates aren’t here is because we’re 25th on the primary calendar,” said Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democrats. “There’s tremendous excitement about what’s going on.”

With the chief focus on voter registration, the party is devoting US$3.2 million to register 200,000 Democrats by the 2020 primary, party leaders told reporters Saturday.

“We believe in expanding the electorate, creating the electorate that we want, instead of accepting the electorate the pundits and consultants have said we have,” said Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. “So we’re focusing on voter registration.”

Part of that effort includes expanding a cadre of Spanish-speaking surrogates who can deliver the party’s message across Spanish-language media, including radio, television, and the Internet. Thus far, the party has amassed about 300 such surrogates, Penalosa said. In addition, the state party has committed US$100,000 in Spanish media advertising. A lesson from previous elections was to hire Latinos from within Florida, who know the issues of their communities, instead of importing them from out of state, he said.

“I think that it’s no secret that Latinos in the United States of America are going to be the largest ethnic voting bloc in 2020,” said US Rep Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat from South Florida. “And the road to winning the Democratic nomination and the road to flipping the White House and winning the White House in 2020 will be through the Latino vote.”