MIRAMAR, Fla. - Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam announced Thursday that he is running for president, ending several weeks of speculation about whether the city's first black mayor would join a crowded Democratic field vying to be the next president of the United States.
Messam told voters in a video that he is running for president to fix a "broken" federal government in Washington.
"When you have a senior citizen who can't afford her prescription medicine, Washington is broken," Messam said in the video. "When our scientists are telling us if we don't make drastic changes today, the quality of our air will be in peril, Washington is broken. Everyday people are graduating from universities with crippling debt, stifling their opportunity for financial mobility. That is what's broken with this country."
Miramar's first black mayor was born in Pahokee and grew up in South Bay. From there it was on to Florida State University, where he played football for the legendary Bobby Bowden and was a member of the Seminoles' first national championship team in 1993.
The 44-year-old Democrat has been mayor since 2015, when he unseated 16-year incumbent Lori Cohen Moseley.
Messam's entrance into the race, two weeks after he launched an exploratory committee, makes him the longest of longshots in an already crowded field of Democrats -- including more than a handful of senators -- vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. He joins, among others, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and former Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker in the race to be president.
In a nod to the fact that Messam is largely unknown outside of South Florida, the video focuses extensively on the mayor's personal story, noting that his parents immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica, his father worked as a contract sugar cane cutter in Florida and he earned a scholarship to play football at FSU.
Messam started 12 games at wide receiver for the Seminoles during the 1995 and 1996 seasons. He was also the school's 1996 homecoming chief and was elected vice-president of the student body as a senior.
He also talks about growing up in "The Muck," an area around Lake Okeechobee where sugar cane grows.
Messam's announcement comes on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s final march, when King marched with sanitation workers who were on strike in Memphis.
"America belongs to all of us," Messam said in the video. "The promise of America belongs to all of us. That's why I'm going to be running for president -- to be your champion."
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