LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Over 1,500 Democrats from across Florida descended on Orlando for the Florida Democratic Party’s 2019 bi-annual state convention held at Walt Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort, and U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware gave a rousing keynote address at the Fighting for Florida Gala Dinner hosted by Florida Democratic Party.
The FDP held the fundraiser to increase supporter engagement in the 2020 presidential election. Party members in attendance included Chair Terrie Rizzo, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, Congressman Darren Soto, Congresswoman Donna Shalala, State Senator Victor Torres, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, Puerto Rico Senate President Charlie Rodriguez. In addition to Senator Coons, Broward County gun rights activist Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, also spoke at the gala.
Gun Rights Activist Fred Guttenberg
The Democrats’ Message
At the beginning of the gala, FDP Chairwoman Terri Rizzo reported “tremendous progress” in the movement of voters to change the political control in Florida. She stated that the party must change Florida from the current red to a sea of blue. “We owe this to the country,” she said. “Florida is the road for change in Washington.”
Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo
Rizzo blamed Florida’s decline of integrity on three of its top cabinet members, including Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. Rizzo noted these individuals together make up the “axis of corruption.”
Her comment stems from the support these Republican officials have provided to President Trump, who she said “attacks the institution of our country’s democracy, makes a mockery of the presidency, empowers racism and has made our nation a less safe place to live.”
She also criticized the Florida Republicans for not supporting the 4th Amendment that allows ex-felons to cast their vote, which voters supported during the last election. Other situations claim party bashing, following the lead of our current president through political corruption.
Delaware Senator Chris Coons
These issues are the focus of the Democratic party’s plan to take back control of the state and form a pathway for a total change of politics for the nation. Instead of focusing on President Trump, they’re focusing on electing a Democrat who wants to help the residents of Florida. “Next year, we cannot allow 2016 to happen again,” said Senator Coons, who supports Rizzo’s claim of Florida’s impact on changing the politics in Washington. “The residents of this state express[ed] the need for better living conditions for themselves and their children.”
Congressional Panel Discussion
Throughout the evening, the panel clearly expressed their disapproval of the job performance at both the state and federal levels with the goal to energize support for the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, those in attendance appeared to be uninterested in the speeches from the panel. One speaker intentionally waited for the crowd to listen before resuming her speech. Others spoke regardless of the guests’ attention.
Florida’s Political Trends and Future Needs
During the evening, the FDP mentioned 2016’s losing results as a game-changer in state politics. Democrats claim the Republican Party, which has controlled Florida politics for twenty years, forgets the needs of Floridians. “We must increase the support of our party,” Coons restated. Historically, trends show that low voter turnout, lack of participation and poor voting practices at the polls hurt Floridians. Democrats’ acknowledgement of extremely close elections fuels the party plea for members to get involved and make these thin lines disappear. The FDP spent $3 million to boost voter registration. In addition to the money, three things are crucial for the party:
- Democrats must increase voter registration.
- Democrats must go to the polls and vote.
- Democrats must ensure all of the votes are counted.
“These goals will happen with the help of all of us,” said Rizzo. “Three million dollars spent to boost the registration program will help with these goals.”
The Primary Issues
The FDP’s platform includes LGBTQ human rights concerns, women’s rights to maintain their voice over their own bodies, climate change, quality education, affordable living, and the rights of pre-existing medical conditions. In addition to these issues, there was also continued concern for lack of funds and progress made on Puerto Rico two years after Hurricane Maria did significant damage to the island, gun control in lieu of not only the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, but the rise of other mass shootings in venues across the nation.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried
Other topics of interest included restoring clemency, and allowing the farming of hemp in the state as a renewable resource for the sale of industrial hemp and hemp fiber and CBD. Florida employs a director of cannabis.
According to Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, “the farming of hemp will produce jobs in Florida.” She reports hemp has 25 to 35 thousand usages such as a replacement for plastic, styrofoam and concrete.
In conclusion, Democrats in Florida aim to move the country in “a better direction.” Strengthening their presence at the polls is important. For the party, now is the time start. Even before a candidate is chosen, calls and door to door communication with Floridians will increase awareness of the need for voters to register, show, and ensure their votes count. Conversations with politicians can bring people together to share the visions of the future of the United States. The shared visions include improving the morals and ethics voters want to see in politics and for their children’s future.
Sara-Beth Colon Jeffrey is Associate Editor of Education & Tech for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org