The need for high voter turnout and removing Donald Trump from the White House were themes of speeches at the Florida Democratic State Party Convention, held from Friday, Oct. 11 to Sunday, Oct. 13 in Orlando.
Democrats also are looking beyond 2020, already eyeing the 2022 election cycle.
Florida Party Chair Terrie Rizzo; Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried; Delaware Sen. Chris Coons; gun control activist Fred Guttenberg; local representatives and many others spoke at the convention.
Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa said that the upcoming election was going to be about turnout and the Democratic Party was going back to its roots. Peñalosa said outreach had even gone to rural parts of the state to talk to voters and get them to register with the Democratic Party. Peñalosa said that if the Democrats focused on the swing districts and other areas, they could possibly pick up seats. Peñalosa said that the party would “build the infrastructure for whoever the nominee is.”
“We have the electorate ready to go,” he said. “The Democrats are pretty united about beating Donald Trump.”
Rizzo spoke of the xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia, and homophobia that the Democrats were seeing from the current administration and how Trump should not be elected for another term. She said that many voters were sick and tired of Trump’s divisiveness, his lying, his broken policies and that the Democratic Party hoped to send Trump packing in 2020. She said that the Republican Party kept explaining away this presidency and “was putting party before country.”
“We must not let Donald Trump win the White House,” said Rizzo. “That is why 2020 and 2022 are so important.”
Fried said Democrats are white, Black, gay, straight, transgender, Native American, young, old, Asian and Hispanic and Jewish, and so many other ethnicities. She spoke of how the party must “fight like hell” to win the 2020 and 2022 elections.
“We are organizing,” said Fried. “We will make sure every stone is unturned and every voter is found. We will turn Florida blue in 2020. We have to get in the area and fight like hell.”
Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell spoke about the hard work that she, and her colleagues, had undertaken to get bills passed in the Legislature only to find that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was blocking bills that could help make American lives better and make communities better. Mucarsel-Powell also spoke of how important every single vote was, and how she won her district by a very slim margin.
“Help me keep our state blue,” she said, “and turn the White House blue. Please use your power. Don’t forget the power you had in 2018. We will have that power again in 2020.”
Michael Blake, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and a candidate for Congress, spoke about the “foolishness” that was going on in the White House and how people needed to vote and elect someone who would really lead the country like former President Barack Obama had. Blake said that when people voted for Democrats they usually got better schools, better jobs, better places to live and when people voted for Republicans, they were likely to get a fool like Donald Trump. Blake said that people needed to fight for justice in a country that was diverse as this one.
“All of us have to fight for each other,” said Blake. “Don’t be silent. We have to care about each other. We are fighting for justice. We are fighting to help our people.”
Guttenberg spoke about the importance of voting in the 2020 election cycle and how most people supported sensible gun control. He spoke about the death of his daughter but how the gun lobby was being broken down with the help of good people and amazing legislators who stood with him during the dark days and helped him. He spoke warmly about Congressman Ted Detuch and also Debbie Wasserman-Schultz who had helped him and his family and many others. Guttenberg said that Trump claimed that victims of gun violence loved him, which was not true.
“No, we don’t,” said Guttenberg. “I don’t care about him. I care about what he does, and because of what he says and what he does, we must get him out of office. We need to get weapons of war off our streets.”
Coons said that good people could not sit out this election because the future was too important. He spoke about gun control and how people needed to be safe wherever they chose to be in the country.
“We should be able to go to worship, study and love whoever we want,” said Coons. “We must pass gun violence reform. I also believe in the rule of law in this country and our constitution, and I will not sit shiva for our democracy but will fight for it.”