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Biden campaign says Florida is ‘in play’ for Dems in November, though GOP officials disagree

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President Joe Biden speaking at the University of Tampa on Feb. 9, 2023 (Photo credit: Mitch Perry)Quality Journalism for Critical Times

The Biden-Harris reelection campaign team is acknowledging that while it will be “hard” for President Joe Biden to win Florida this November, the state is now “in play” following recent actions on the abortion front.

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday upheld a 15-week abortion ban, which will become a rigid 6-week ban throughout Florida starting next month. The same day, the high court approved a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion rights for placement on the ballot in November.

“We definitely see Florida in play, and unlike Donald Trump, we have multiple pathways to 270 that we’ve been able to keep open,” said Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the campaign manager for the Biden-Harris reelection team, on a Zoom conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Unlike nearly every other presidential election cycle going back more than two decades, Florida has not been considered a swing state in this year’s presidential contest.

And unlike his many excursions to battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin, the president’s two most recent appearances in Florida were private fundraising events in South Florida in January, and a visit to North Florida last September to tour the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia. The last time Biden came to speak to a live audience in Florida about politics or policy was when he appeared at the University of Tampa more than a year ago, two days after his 2023 State of the Union address.

However, Vice President Kamala Harris has been in Florida. In July 2023, she spoke out about new Black history standards in Florida, blasting what she called revisionist history. She told the crowd in Jacksonville that Black history revisions are part of a national right-wing agenda. In August, Harris spoke in Orlando about Florida’s Black history standards; in September, she was in Miami – part of a trip that focused on visits to historically Black colleges. 

In late March of 2024, on issues of gun violence, Harris toured the site of Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and staff were killed in a mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.

Now, the Biden-Harris campaign is stepping up their actions in Florida.

Last Friday they announced that they had selected Jasmine Burney-Clark to serve as their state director and Phillip Jerez and Jackie Lee to serve as senior advisers. Burney-Clark is the founder of the Equal Ground Education and Action Fund which works to protect the voting rights of Black Floridians. Jerez has been the executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, and Lee served as Biden’s Florida state director in 2020, according to a news release.

Chávez Rodríguez did not respond to a question on Tuesday’s press call about whether Biden will be coming to Florida anytime soon. But she did say that the Biden reelection team will “continue to compete” in the Sunshine State.

“We’re clear eyed about how hard it will be to win Florida, but we also know that Trump does not have it in the bag,” she said, adding that there has been increasing “evidence that there is more opportunity for Democratic victories in the state,” referring to Donna Deegan’s victory as Jacksonville mayor last year and Tom Keen’s election in the House District 35 seat in Central Florida back in January. 

“We have a strong agenda to run on and the rollbacks and freedoms from book bans to bans on abortions that we’ve seen in the state — Floridians aren’t standing for, and so we’re going to compete and we’re going to make sure that Donald Trump has to compete in the state of Florida,” Chávez Rodríguez added.

Chávez Rodríguez is correct that based on recent historic trends, the Democrats can win the White House without winning Florida. Biden won the 2020 presidential election despite losing Florida by 3.3 points. In 2012, Barack Obama was declared the winner of the presidential election over Mitt Romney on Election Day, though it took four more days before Florida’s election results were eventually announced (Obama did win Florida that year by less than 1%).

Democrats are optimistic that anger about what will soon become a six-week abortion ban and excitement about a constitutional amendment that would restore a woman’s right to have an abortion up until the point of viability will bring more voters leaning their way into the polling booths in November.

But a POLITICO analysis from January of five abortion-related measures that have appeared on state ballots since the Roe. v. Wade decision was overturned in 2022 found that while abortion rights won in each of those states, “Democratic turnout didn’t consistently increase in states with abortion referendums compared to those without.”

Also, the Florida GOP now holds an 855,701 lead over Democrats in voter registration as of Feb. 29, according to the State Division of Elections website.

The numbers show 5,215,016 voters for Republicans and 4,359,315 for Democrats. However, there are also 3,536,909 No Party Affiliation voters, and 333,112 voters from minor parties.

Evan Power, the Republican Party of Florida Chair, noted both of those factors in dismissing concerns that the Democrats will be more competitive than expected in November.

“It is comical, even Democratic consultants admit these ballot initiatives don’t impact turnout,” Power told the Phoenix in a text message. “Here is the truth. There is a net change of 1.3 million voters in the Republican direction since 2020. We are going to win Florida in November and we are going to win it big!”

The post Biden campaign says Florida is ‘in play’ for Dems in November, though GOP officials disagree appeared first on Florida Phoenix.

Abortion Policy, Election 2024, Politics & Law, Barack Obama, Donald trump, Donna Deegan, Equal Ground Education and Action Fund, Jackie Lee, Jasmine Burney-Clark, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Mitt Romney, Phillip Jerez, President Joe Biden, Tom Keen

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