Andrew Gillum: "The road to the White House runs through Florida"

The Democrats are really embracing their losing candidates and failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is one of a trio of the most favored of the losers. He isn’t running for president but he is deeply entrenched in the narrative that voter suppression denied him Florida’s highest office.

Wednesday Gillum announced that his PAC, Forward Florida, is launching a statewide voter registration drive with the help of other groups and the state Democrat Party. The mission is to ensure the defeat of President Trump’s re-election in 2020.

The former Tallahassee mayor and Democratic nominee for governor is expected to formally announce the effort today at a speech in Miami Gardens. One of the groups working with Gillum — Bring it Home Florida, named after his signature campaign phrase — was registered last week by his supporters with the state election division overseeing third-party voter registration organizations.

Meanwhile, the Florida Democratic Party says it will spend $2 million in the next year to register 200,000 voters ahead of next year’s presidential primary. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said the party has not “dedicated enough resources” to registering voters in recent years. There are currently 4.96 million registered Democrats in the state compared to 4.7 million Republicans and nearly 3.6 million voters with no party affiliation.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is doing the same in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan and will also concentrate on getting registered voters to the polls. It’s all about the turn-out on election day. President Trump has his eye on Florida and has already begun campaign-style rallies there so there’s something for everyone. Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee confidently says “The road to the White House goes through Florida.”

“We are going to commit ourselves to register and engaging one million voters between now and 2020’s presidential election,” Gillum told a crowd in Miami. “The road to the White House runs through Florida. We can deny Donald Trump a second term right here in the state of Florida.”

“This isn’t the sexy work. I gotta admit. I’m sure it’s probably more fun for some of those out there running for President,” he said. But he said he is ready to do “the hard work of democracy.”

“How many states can you say, by themselves, have the ability to deny this man a return to the White House?” Gillum added. “I can’t think of a bigger, better, more important state than the state of Florida, than for us to send that message.”

Gillum, realizing he doesn’t really have a chance at the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, acknowledged his supporters were hoping he’d run. Instead, he is choosing to actively work on the ground to register voters, including focusing on felons who have served their time.

Gillum’s PAC, Forward Florida, continued to raise money after his loss in November. Forward Flordia had $3.9 million available as of February 28 to fund his registration efforts, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. He will also have a pool of roughly 1.4 million newly eligible voters after Floridians supported a constitutional amendment in November restoring voting rights to convicted felons who completed their sentences.

But a new proposal by Republicans in Florida’s state legislature would set conditions on restoring felons’ voting rights, in part by requiring them to pay back court fees and civil fines before their rights are restored.

Republican lawmakers argue the language in the ballot measure did not properly define what it means to complete a sentence.

Democrats say the requirement to pay back court fees and fines is a poll tax. I think reasonable voters will understand it is a form of restitution in exchange for the privilege of voting after committing a crime that landed a felon in prison. Maybe that’s just me.

The trio of losing Democrat candidates that captured the most attention from the press in 2018 was Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and Beto O’Rourke. Gillum was eager to note that O’Rourke has the white privilege thing going for him. Of the three, O’Rourke is the only one who has jumped into the race for president though all three garnered press coverage as contenders.

There’s no doubt that O’Rourke enjoys a set of privileges in his decision making that other candidates don’t. Can you imagine it for any of the women that are in the race for president or considering a run? They probably could not muse out loud, or in the recesses of their mind have these sorts of conversations and then say them out loud, and think it would be taken seriously or they would be taken seriously.

I recognize that, but, as I understand it, the congressman also recognizes that there is privilege that accompanies him here. That doesn’t make him less deserving of consideration, it’s just something that has to be acknowledged.

I think over the course of this race, we will — and America will — discover what Beto O’Rourke’s views are. And I think he’ll be measured on that.

In other words, Beto suffers from an acute case of liberal white guilt so he may be an acceptable candidate for the party’s nomination. Stacey Abrams and Gillum both blame alleged voter suppression for their failures on election night. Neither conceded on election night to their Republican opponents and both have milked their losses for all it’s worth. Abrams is being touted as a strong contender for the vice-presidential slot on a Biden ticket. We all know that an old white guy who may win the nomination, whether it’s Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, can’t choose a white vice-president or a male vice-president, either. Most male candidates have pledged to choose a woman when asked the question on the trail. Reports are that Biden has already spoken with Abrams.

I’ll end with this. If you haven’t watched this short video by Roll Call’s Jason Dick and Nathan L. Gonzales, you should for the entertainment value. They comment on political ads in the way that Mystery Science Theatre 3000 does on movies. “I hope it’s not just a hyped video for voter registration” is one of the last comments from them. Heh. That’s exactly what it is, guys.