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Joe Biden to address Florida Democrats at state party’s annual gala

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina will speak as well.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will address Florida Democrats for the first time as a presumptive presidential nominee later this month when he headlines the state party’s Blue Gala, one of the organization’s largest annual fundraisers.

The July 18 event, which will be held digitally due to the ongoing pandemic, will also feature Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, and House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

Under the circumstances, the gala “will be unlike no other,” said Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Terrie Rizzo.

Getting Biden to appear is a major upgrade for event organizers after last year’s lackluster line up. The two dozen candidates running for president all snubbed the 2019 event, unwilling to cede a day on the campaign trail in the more crucial early primary states for dinner and a speech in Disney World. The slight left Florida Democrats without a marquee headliner for their fundraiser.

But Florida is once again in the national spotlight as the largest swing state up for grabs this November, making this a necessary stop for Biden. Similarly, President Donald Trump attended the Florida Republican Party’s annual fundraiser last winter.

Related: Inside the Democratic strategy to defeat Donald Trump in Florida

The gala is the top-line event of the state Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue conference, a three-day organizing and strategy session.