Greater Fort Lauderdale Democratic luncheon on Sunday, June 4

By Carol Porter

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Michael Albetta, Michael Lockwood, Ron Mills

Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum spoke at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Democratic luncheon on Sunday, June 4, held in Tropical Acres in Fort Lauderdale. Among other speakers at the event were past Congressional candidate Tim Canova, Dania Beach Commission Bobbie Grace, Rep Evan Jenne, and Senator Perry Thurston. Club president Percy Johnson and former Broward Democratic Party Chair Mitch Ceasar were emcees. Congressman Alcee Hastings and Congressman John Lewis stopped by the luncheon before it began to greet people before they headed to a fundraiser in West Palm Beach. Gillum also has been endorsed by Julian Castro who had a fundraiser for him recently in Miami.
Gillum spoke about his city of Tallahassee, a blue dot in a sea of red, and a city in the middle of “Republican regime who does not intend us good.” Gillum spoke of the upcoming special session, in which the Florida Legislature would try to accomplish in three days what they were supposed to do in ninety days. After focusing on the state of Florida, Gillum also spoke about the national crisis in leadership, and how the current president was siding with the rulers in Syria and Nicaragua regarding climate change and the climate compact. He noted that the country had a climate denier in the White House, and so did the State of Florida.
“We have a denier in Rick Scott,” said Gillum. “This is the Governor. The employees cannot mention climate change or global warming in state documents. They are closing down streets in Miami Beach due to high tides. We can’t talk about it. The Governor says so.”
Gillum also spoke about the working poor and middle class in the state and the country, and how people were struggling to get by, working from paycheck to paycheck. If they got sick, they couldn’t take off from work because they wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. As a child of a bus driver and a construction worker, who had seven brothers and a sister, he said, he knew what it was like to grow up struggling to get ahead. He said the Democratic Party needed to be the party of the middle class and the poor as it had in the past. As a child, he was taught that everyone was in it “together,” and you helped other people.
“If I went far, we would all go far,” said Gillum. “If I did good, we all did good.”
Gillum also spoke about how he had traveled to places where he wasn’t welcome, such as the Villages, a notoriously conservative residential community in Northern Florida, where people were very impressed with him. He thought he was going to speak to about a few hundred people, but when he showed up there, five hundred people were waiting for him to speak. People giving in small amounts raised five thousand dollars for his campaign. He didn’t have a famous last name, he said, but he wanted people all over the state to know who he was, even if he had to go where Democrats typically didn’t go.
“I showed up there,” said Gillum, “and there was an auditorium with five hundred retirees, not another face that looked like me. The leader of the club said I want you to be the next governor.”
Ceasar spoke about voter turnout, and the current news cycle as being the new abnormal. He also noted that most of the breaking news alerts consisted of the latest things that the current president was doing and how the president was a great distractor who created all kinds of noise around the latest “shining object” to distract people from Russia and former FBI Director James Comey. He also said that Trump had a core base of about 38% who would never drop him no matter what he did, even if it were shooting someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City in broad daylight. Ceasar said it was the Democratic Party’s challenge to reach out to Independents, many of whom were more likely to vote Democrat in elections and bring them into the fold. Ceasar spoke of the many groups opposing Trump all over the county and how important it was for the party to let them have their independence.
“The party’s challenge and my warning to them is to coordinate with them and work with them, and do not try to control these groups,” he said.
Senator Perry Thurston agreed with Ceasar about turnout and the upcoming elections. Thurston spoke about the Senate seat in Miami Dade County that was up for grabs due to the racist language from former legislator Frank Artiles. If the Democrats were able to pick up at that seat, it would mean one more seat in the Legislature, bringing the number closer to twenty where they could have more of an impact on legislation. Thurston noted that the Florida Legislature was headed into special session to finalize work on the budget, but leaving Democrats on the process. Thurston also said he was endorsing Gillum for Governor.
“The mayor is my candidate for governor,” said Thurston.
Tim Canova, who launched an unsuccessful campaign against current Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, said that a lot of grassroots candidates ran in the last election cycle, and their candidacies brought in a lot of energy from Independents and Republicans who registered as Democrats. Canova spoke about the Democratic Party’s current crisis in governing in the United States. President Barack Obama’s election to the highest office in the land, said Canova, masked the losses that had occurred with Democratic officials dropping numbers in public office, and the same thing was happening under the leadership of Donald Trump. Canova said that the Democratic Party had to go back to its roots and become once again the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. Too many people were being left behind in the current economy, and not being able to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads, or advance.
“I see millennials and Generation X having trouble in this economy,” said Canova. “I see Baby Boomers knocked on their feet and rear ends. We have to be the party of Roosevelt, Kennedy and Martin Luther King. I think change starts with each one of us.”

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