Andrew Gillum has launched a Florida voter registration group dedicated to defeating President Donald Trump’s re-election chances in the nation’s largest swing state.
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.
Progressive activists who supported Gillum in last year’s gubernatorial race have speculated that he might mount a bid for president. But for now, it appears he’s going to focus on increasing the number of voters in his home state.
Gillum, whose political committee Forward Florida still has nearly $3.9 million available, hinted at his plans earlier in the year.
“In this period of time, whatever resources that I raise and time and energy I spend in this state is going to be around voter registration and deep-level engagement, so that when we have a nominee, we have an apparatus we can turn on,” Gillum said in January.
Gillum is scheduled to speak at Florida Memorial University later today. His spokesperson declined to comment for this article.
Trump’s campaign is heavily focused on Florida, the biggest swing state in the nation, with 29 of the 270 electoral college votes needed to win. Without the Sunshine State, Trump’s path to victory narrows significantly.
If a Democrat can carry Florida in 2020, he or she could win the White House by capturing just one other swing state — Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania — if the remaining states voted the way they did in 2016.
Trump won Florida and some of those other states by razor-thin margins, raising Democrats’ hope that they could remedy their 2016 turnout problems by growing voter rolls and persuading swing and first-time voters to cast ballots against the president.
Steve Schale, a Florida political consultant who worked for President Barack Obama, said that Democrats need to do a better job of registering voters in Florida. On his blog this week, he said that the voter registration advantage held by Democrats has fallen by 400,000 voters over the last 10 years.
Former New York Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg announced last month that rather than seek the presidency as a Democrat, he would fund a voter registration, persuasion and turnout effort in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“Whoever the nominee is likely won’t be decided until late into 2020, and whoever that nominee is will face a very large and well-funded campaign in waiting,” Bloomberg adviser Mitch Stewart, who led Obama’s battleground effort in 2012, told POLITICO last month.
“As we looked at the gaps in the current ecosystem, we said, ‘Could we set something up right now that could provide the infrastructure, provide the data and technology to whomever the eventually nominee is so they’re not at such a disadvantage once the primary is over?’” Stewart said. “We can.”
Democrats say they have identified as many as four million Floridians eligible to vote who are not registered. Florida party officials say they plan to partner with data science firms and hire dozens of full-time organizers as part of the new $2 million effort.