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Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates planning to march together in Homestead

Four and potentially all five of Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates could wind up marching arm-in-arm – at least metaphorically – in Homestead this weekend at a rally protesting President Donald Trump‘s policy to separate immigrant children from their families.

In quick order Wednesday morning, in a line of falling campaign dominoes, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced he would be clearing his schedule to go to Homestead for the rally, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham declared on Twitter they should march together, and businessman Chris King declared that he couldn’t agree more.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine also has decided to march in Homestead the Saturday, according to his campaign.

Businessman Jeff Greene, in an airplane headed for Tallahassee late Wednesday morning, hadn’t weighed in yet, but his staff indicated his potential support.

“This Saturday we have decided to cancel our other events to march in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in South Florida. This moral crisis demands our leaders stand up to this outrage in unequivocal terms, and we will not turn away from what the Trump Administration is doing to these families,” Gillum announced in a press release Wednesday morning.

“@MayorLevine, @AndrewGillum, @ChrisKingFL and @JeffGreeneFL, we should do this together. This issue is bigger than any of our individual campaigns and we can send a louder message to @realDonaldTrump by standing together to resist it,” Graham tweeted.

“Couldn’t agree more. I’ll be there,” King tweeted back.

They’re planning to attend the “March to Keep Families Together” being organized in part by the ACLU Florida for 4 p.m. Saturday. It’s part of a nationwide set of rallies and marches against Trump’s policy of separating families caught crossing the border and sending the children by themselves to detention centers.

The march will focus on the federal Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, a detention center with a reported 1,000 beds, where at least 94 children stripped from their parents at the border are being held. It’s the same place where U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Democrats, were refused entry Tuesday when they sought to check on the welfare of the children inside.

All five Democratic gubernatorial candidates have issued strong condemnations of the practice, which evolved out of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance policy” on illegal immigration launched in April, resulting in reports of more than 2,000 children being stripped from their parents and sent to live in mass detention centers while the government prosecutes their parents for deportation. Many Republicans including Gov. Rick Scott also have condemned the practice. With the Republican gubernatorial candidates, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has given mixed messages on his position, while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has said families should be kept together.

For the Democrats, heading to Homestead means, as Gillum pointed out in his announcement, a necessity to clear schedules. That includes for at least a couple of them canceling appearances at the St. Petersburg Pride event on Saturday.

How close the Democrats will march, together or just within eyesight of one another, remains to be seen.

“I think we would like to march arm and arm with them,” King’s spokesman Avery Jaffe said. “I think that would be a great visual. But we’ll be down there.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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