Amid the barbecues and other festivities this holiday weekend, Democrats will be knocking on doors in 23 of the state’s 67 counties and encouraging Floridians to register to vote.
Partnering with Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who will face a tough challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott in November, the Florida Democratic Party has dubbed the Memorial Day campaign an “‘I Will Vote’” weekend of action. The party will join a team supportive of Nelson, “Nelson’s Neighbors.”
During the weekend, the Democratic senator is scheduled to join volunteers in Orange County. Meanwhile, his wife, Grace Nelson, will be in Duval County also doing fieldwork.
In announcing the campaign, the party noted it’s less than 100 days from the Aug. 28 primary. The Democrats said the three-day weekend marks “a kick-off to a summer of activism,” which they hope will result in thousands of newly registered physical and mail-in voters.
In a news release, FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo expressed confidence in the party’s ability to capitalize on grassroots missions — such as what’s planned this weekend — in 2018. One supporting piece of evidence: Florida was the top state in the nation this week to have volunteers sign up for training with the Association of State Democratic Committees, according to FDP.
“The momentum we are seeing in our Democratic clubs and progressive groups across the state has been outstanding,” said Rizzo, “There is tremendous enthusiasm about our candidates, and it shows by the engagement we are seeing in this weekend of action, and beyond.”
Rizzo, who replaced ousted former Dem chief Stephen Bittel in December, said the party is focused on getting Democrats elected “up and down the ticket.”
Though, with the primary still months away, it makes sense that incumbent Nelson is the only named ‘partner’ in this weekend’s activities. He’s the only formidable Democrat running for his federal seat, whereas the Democratic gubernatorial race boasts four strong candidates in Philip Levine, Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum and Chris King — meaning FDP will hold its tongue on that ticket until voters determine who makes the cut in August.
And while Democrats have capitalized on the holiday, Republicans have been active in their Days of Action across Florida.
To date this cycle, the GOP has knocked on 290,000 doors. Per the Republican National Committee, there are more Florida field workers for the 2018 midterms working for the party than there have been for any other cycle before.
“In Florida, this year alone we’ve put almost 1,400 people through our intensive Republican Leadership Institute program,” said Taryn Fenske, RNC Spokesperson. “Seventy paid ground staffers are busy training the party’s volunteer army as quickly as they can. Those graduates form the core of neighborhood-based teams then add layers and grow as the cycle progresses. When crunch time arrives this fall, RPOF and RNC will have thousands of trained volunteers ready to knock on doors in their own neighborhoods to defeat Bill Nelson.”