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Wayne Messam formally launches presidential bid in South Florida

Miromar Mayor laid groundwork for run over recent weeks.

Miromar Mayor Wayne Messam on Saturday formally launched his long-shot run for president.

“I know the national pundits and the status quo in Washington are asking ‘Why would a mayor run for President?’ and ‘Is he qualified?’” Messam said.

“The real question should be what does Washington experience have to do with meeting the needs of the American people?”

The former National Football League athlete launched his campaign at Florida Memorial University.

And while the Democratic candidate enters a crowded field of U.S. senators and national figures, to say nothing of an incumbent Republican president, he offered optimism from the stump.

“It is time America leads the world again, and the only way we can do this is to go big,” he said. “We must be bold and our foreign policy must reflect our values if we are to truly lead.”

Messam said as mayor of Miramar he achieved more than the typical municipal leader. He guided Miramar through hurricane cleanup after Irma, led a public fight against offshore oil drilling and launched a lawsuit against Florida over state preemption on gun control.

He laid out several policy objectives including aggressive action on climate change, forgiving student debt, rolling back President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and enacting gun control.

“When you have 96 people die from gun violence every day in America, and today, as I stand before you, there is no gun reform bill on the President’s desk,” he said.

“It will be my goal as your President to cut gun deaths in half by the end of my first term, with the goal to eliminate this threat entirely by the end of my presidency.”

Messam publicly hinted at a run for weeks. On Thursday, he released a video announcing his intention to run.

Notably, he’s not the only mayor of a mid-sized community to throw his hat in the ring. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg has made a splash running for president and polled in third place in a recent Iowa state poll.

It remains to be seen if Messam can garner the same attention. He does benefit from coming from a swing state in Florida. But he remains confident his message will be heard.

“As your President, I will champion change and opportunity for all people, not just the wealthy or well-connected,” he said.

“My message to the American people is simple. If you believe change cannot wait another election or another year, I want to be our champion.”

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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