MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum wants to register at least 1 million voters in an effort to make the state swing blue in the 2020 presidential race, he announced Wednesday evening.
Gillum told supporters at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens that Democrats must now begin to actively engage voters ahead of the 2020 Presidential Primary.
“What is happening in Washington, D.C., is not normal,” Gillum said. “We can deny Donald Trump a second term right here in the state of Florida.”
The former Tallahassee mayor is calling the voter registration drive Bring it Home Florida, a political action group named after his 2018 campaign slogan.
Earlier Wednesday, the Florida Democratic Party announced a plan to spend $2 million with a goal of signing up 200,000 Floridians to vote. In 2017, the party said it registered only about 80,000 new voters.
Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said voter registration is a “top priority” and that the party wants to “set our nominee up for success on day one of the general election.”
The party also plans to partner with data science firms to create an infrastructure to increase registered Democrats in the state.
In addition to the 4.96 million registered Democrats and 4.7 million registered Republicans in the state, according to recent data from the Florida Division of Elections, there are more than 4 million unregistered Floridians eligible to vote, according to the Florida Democratic party.
More than 3 million registered voters in the state have no party affiliation.
Although the state recently passed a constitutional amendment restoring the voting rights to 1.4 million former felons, Florida legislators advanced a bill Tuesday that could serve as another roadblock for those hoping to vote in the 2020 election. If passed, the bill would require former felons to pay outstanding court fees before they can register.
Gillum balked at the conservative lawmakers’ efforts Wednesday evening.
“I want us to send an unapologetic message to our legislature to get their hands off our Amendment 4,” Gillum said.
With 29 electoral votes, Florida is considered the biggest prize among swing states. The difference between victory and defeat is often minuscule. Republican Donald Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton in Florida by nearly 113,000 in the 2016 presidential election.
Marlo Joseph, a security guard working the event, stood at the far end of the gymnasium, watching over the door as Gillum spoke. The 43-year-old from Miami’s impoverished Liberty City neighborhood said she is not a registered voter. Although she would not describe herself as a political person, she said her opinion of President Trump and the Republicans soured after the recent government shutdown. She has family members who work for the TSA who endured weeks without pay. After hearing Gillum speak, she said has decided to register to vote.
“I thought my vote wouldn’t make a difference,” Joseph said, citing Gillum’s narrow defeat in the 2018 gubernatorial election. “If other people just like me would have voted, maybe he would have won.”
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