It’s been a little over two months since I started as the Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. Just like the phrase, “all roads lead to Rome,” our local Democratic Party is operating under an “all roads lead to 2020” mentality. The stakes could not be higher: if Miami-Dade goes heavily blue, Florida goes blue. No Republican has won the White House without Florida in over 100 years, so without Florida... Donald Trump is a one-term President.
We have a three-pronged strategy to make it happen: voter engagement, organizing, and candidate recruitment/support.
#1: Voter Engagement
The numbers are on our side. There are over 600,000 Democrats in Miami-Dade County, nearly 500,000 independents, and fewer than 400,000 Republicans. Republicans do not win in Miami-Dade County because of the strength of their ideas, superior candidates, or even because they represent the views of the majority of our community. The main reason is because they have excellent systems to register and mobilize their voters. Under the leadership of Voter Registration Chair Marybeth Prusher and Program Vice Chair Laura Wagner, we are strengthening our own based on data-driven techniques.
Our field plan includes an aggressive, unprecedented effort for a net increase of 220,000 voters in our county. Donald Trump won Florida by 130,000 votes, and in 2018 Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson both lost by less than 30,000 statewide. The margin for Florida victory is right here in Miami-Dade. We'll be breaking down our targets in smaller geographical goals and measuring progress leading up to the election.
Ongoing voter engagement and education plays a crucial role. We are meeting people where they are, literally and physically – at festivals and in community groups and in places of worship – to make sure that all know of their rights and how to exercise them.
We have twenty-nine clubs and caucuses, including our recently formed Venezuelan American Dems. Chapters focus regionally in some cases, such as the Miami Gardens Democratic Club, or based on shared identity and interest, as with groups like Black Caucus and the Environmental Caucus. We believe especially strongly in young people stepping up, and our Young Democrats and Teen Democrats chapters provide crucial leadership to this end.
I have been meeting 1:1 with the leader of every leader of the Democratic clubs and caucuses both to learn how we can support them, as well as how we can work together on shared goals. We have additionally been working with several organizations, including the Leading Change Network of the Harvard Kennedy School, to help us ingrain best organizing practices into the local party and strengthen coalitions across the progressive ecosystem.
#3: Candidate Recruitment and Support
We intend to flip 4 Florida House seats in 2020 that will have an impact on 7 Miami Dade Districts and federal elections. It is our job to identify, recruit, and support the right local leaders – people who know the community, and will be a voice for the community – to step up for City Commissions, State House, and the State Senate. There are enormous opportunities for us to build on; in 2018 we lost 2 Florida House seats by 867 combined votes, and in 2020 we will win those and others.
Additionally, we have some major wins to maintain, such as Hialeah Representative Cindy Polo, in areas that people had thought a Democrat could never win. Republicans are rightfully fearful of the gains we are making throughout the county, and we must protect against the enormous levels of money that will come to push back against our success. Representative Polo and so many other local and state officials need our support so that they counter Republican and special interest attacks – often deeply dishonest and unfair – and continue to advocate for the people of our community.
Our plans are detailed and comprehensive, and we have planned carefully how much each aspect of it will cost. The challenge we face is unprecedented, and so too must be our efforts.
In order to fully engage voters, organize, and recruit/support candidates, we are aiming to raise $1,000,000 by November of 2020. This begins with the Blue Gala under the leadership of Matt Haggman, which will be held in the Miami Beach Convention Center on November 2. It will be accompanied on that night by the Blue Bash, a great program on its own right and a more affordable ticket. Immediately after, we will launch an unprecedented grassroots fundraising campaign that will stretch through the spring.
It is on us here in Miami-Dade to do our part, and if we do Donald Trump does not have a path to win re-election.
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