Local Dems were among the protesters at Trump’s re-election campaign kickoff in Orlando.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
While President Donald Trump kicked off his re-election campaign with a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando on Tuesday, there were plenty of people from across the state who were protesting his appearance, including some local residents.
As nearly 20,000 supporters cheered the president on during his speech inside the arena, protesters were nearby at a “Win With Love” rally.
Daytona resident Kairo Joseph, who is president of the Volusia Young Democrats, was among them.
“I went to show support with those who vote along the lines with what I vote for, which is education, rights, diversity, equality and so forth,” Joseph told the Daytona Times.
By train, cars, buses
Other local organizations also went to Orlando and protested, including the Volusia Democratic Party. It took a contingent of 25 people.
“The president started his campaign right in the middle of Orange County, which is a Democratic stronghold,’’ said Jewel Dickson, chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Volusia County.
“We had to say something. We rode over on trains, some drove over, some came on buses. There had to be over 100 locals protesting,”
‘A lot of diversity’
The “Win With Love’’ rally took place about a half-mile away from the Amway Arena at the Stonewall Bar on Church Street. It was organized by area activists; speakers included elected officials.
Although protests can get rowdy, the mood and atmosphere was mostly positive.
“I saw a lot of love. ‘Love Trumps Hate’ was the slogan. I saw a lot of diversity. I saw a lot of people coming together who want to turn the state blue. Security and law enforcement were excellent,” Joseph noted.
Dixon echoed, “We had a great time. We had people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, creed and sex all there together. The Orlando police did a great job keeping everyone safe as well.”
Heading to Tampa
Members of the Volusia County Democratic Black Caucus are getting ready for the Florida Democratic Black Caucus Conference, which will be held in Tampa from June 21-23.
“As a group, we didn’t go to Orlando. We had a few members go over with the county party. We are gearing our focus as an organization on Tampa,” the Rev. L. Ronald Durham, told the Times. Durham is the local Black Caucus president.
Durham noted that it was important for the Dems to have a presence in Orlando.
“I think it’s a strong opportunity to prove to the president and show that we are united and strong in numbers. The president has obviously floated laws, which he swore to hold and protect. A huge presence shows it is important to know that there are those who are united,” he explained.
On voter turnout
Local Democrats say voter turnout is key.
“We must get voters out to the polls. There are more Democrats in Florida than Republicans. Many didn’t vote because they were upset,” Dickson shared.
“Locally, we’ll look at every precinct. There was one with 1,500 Democrats but only 500 voted. We must address that.’’
Durham agrees. “The strategy should be twofold. First, we need to continue the excitement and momentum from 2016 and the 2018 midterms. Secondly, we must motivate people to get out and vote, which is the most critical thing.”
The Democratic Party in Volusia County is already at work on it.
Dickson stressed, “We have already started registering voters. We must continue to do that and we must make sure every Democratic voter in every precinct votes Democrat. We also must make sure we have the right candidates.”
The Black vote
Getting Black people to the polls will definitely be a focus.
Durham noted, “It’s critical that we get voters to the polls, especially in the African American community even more so amongst women voters within the African American community.”
Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who came close to being elected Florida’s first Black governor, has started a campaign to get more African Americans to the polls in 2020.
“Gillum’s popularity is at an all-time high, especially amongst African-Americans. He came within a hair of becoming governor of Florida. Gillum can definitely make an impact on Black voters by getting them to take this election seriously,” Durham added.