Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Andrew Gillum writes $100,000 check to Florida Democratic Party for voter registration

‘The race begins today,’ the former Tallahassee mayor said.
(From left) Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, Former Gubernatorial Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum and Terrie Rizzo, the State Chair of the Florida Democratic Party take a photo with a check donated to the Florida Democratic Party during the Florida Democratic Party and Forward Florida Action Partnership to register voters in Florida held at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published May 16
Updated May 17

TAMPA — The political committee of former Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum gave $100,000 on Thursday to the Florida Democratic Party to help register voters before the 2020 presidential primary.

His committee Forward Florida also will give $400,000 to organizations mobilizing voters in minority communities, Gillum said.

“The race begins today,” Gillum said. “This is simply a downpayment. We’ve got a lot more coming your way.”

In March, Gillum announced plans to turn the political movement and campaign structure that nearly won him the governor’s race into a statewide effort to find 1 million more Democratic voters in 2020. That number includes new registrations and “reengaging" registered voters who have skipped recent elections.

MORE: Andrew Gillum launches 2020 voter registration drive

In joining Gillum’s effort, the state party is acknowledging its own failures in recent years to organize volunteers and register voters in non-election years. Democrats have too often relied on the personality at the top of the ticket to deliver voters to the polls. So far, that has only worked under President Barack Obama.

Democrats want to modernize, party chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said, with more research and data tools and training year round. In June, the party will train 90 new staff — mostly college students, many Spanish-speakers — who will begin knocking on doors.

“What I respect about what the Republicans have done is they’ve tried to build the organization that regardless of who the nominee is, they can deliver a win," Gillum said. "We’re trying to build the state of Florida that mechanically can produce a win regardless of who the nominee is.”

The half a million promised today comes from $3.7 million left over from Gillum’s 2018 campaign. It’s a pot of money that recently came under fire, when lawyer and activist John Morgan suggested on Twitter should go toward helping felons pay their fines and fees to get back their voting rights.

While Floridians overwhelming approved a constitutional amendment last year to restore the right to vote to certain felons, lawmakers this session tacked on new provisions that will require those felons to first pay any court costs, fees and restitution. Gov. Ron DeSantis has not signed the bill but he indicated he intends to.

In response to Morgan, Gillum said that he had already dedicated that money to his voter registration campaign and he encouraged Morgan to “use your sway with @RonDeSantisFL to get it vetoed.”

Morgan shot back: “You lost by 30k votes and kept the money from people who trusted you so that now you can go around the state with a staff preparing for your next run. I will tell you that is a huge mistake. Your donors are very disappointed. This is a huge ethical lapse. Give it to charity not yourself.”

After Thursday’s event, Gillum said he was disappointed by Morgan’s attack and said it was “offensive” that there isn’t more effort into getting DeSantis to veto the bill or to fighting it in court.

“It makes no sense to be in a circular firing squad,” Gillum said. “I’m not interested int that.”

Amendment 4, if signed into law, won’t make it easier for Gillum to reach 1 million new voters. But he insisted Thursday that the goal can be reached despite this unexpected impediment.

“We obviously would love to have that 1.4 million individuals as part of our target for this registration work,” Gillum said. “Even without that, we have 4 million eligible unregistered people in the state of Florida.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. SUSAN WALSH  |  AP
    Experts on foreign policy said it was ridiculous to think that one person could turn a country “bad.”
  2. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, talks with ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., during a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP) SAUL LOEB  |  AP
    Almost 9 in 10 think the House impeaches Trump but the Senate won’t convict.
  3. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker speaking during 2016 graduation ceremonies at the Florida State University College of Law. [Florida State College of Law] Florida State College of Law
    The ruling, if it’s not overturned, means that President Donald Trump will not automatically be first on the 2020 ballot in Florida.
  4. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.
  5. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Pensacola.
    Prosecutors say Farm Service Agency director Duane E. Crawson, 43, of Bonifay, led a conspiracy to get his friends, family members and acquaintances to recruit others to submit false applications for...
  6. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Panama City City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. His wife Casey DeSantis is pregnant with the family's third child. He joked that the family will have to transition from "man-to-man to zone defense." (Joshua Boucher/News Herald via AP) JOSHUA BOUCHER/ THE NEWS HERALD  |  AP
    The federal judge had ordered that 17 felons not be removed from the voter rolls before a lawsuit goes to trial next year.
  7. In this Nov. 12, 2019 file photo, Roger Stone, a longtime Republican provocateur and former confidant of President Donald Trump, waits in line at the federal court in Washington. MANUEL BALCE CENETA  |  AP
    Roger Stone, a longtime friend and ally of President Donald Trump, was found guilty Friday of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails damaging to Hillary...
  8. The Capitol is seen in Washington on. Impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump come at the very time that Capitol Hill usually tends to its mound of unfinished business. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
  9. This March 7, 2016, file photo shows the Trump National Doral clubhouse in Doral. WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    A party spokeswoman confirmed to the Miami Herald Thursday that the annual event, to be held over several days in late January, will take place at Trump National Doral Miami, located near Miami...
  10. Ross Spano serving in the Florida Legislature in 2017. The Dover Republicans 2018 campaign for Congress is now under federal investigation. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The House Ethics Committee revealed the Dover Republican is under federal investigation for possibly violating campaign finance law.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement