The Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee is opening a Democratic Outreach Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in the North Greenwood neighborhood in Clearwater, the party announced Thursday.
The new center will support Democratic candidates, volunteers, and campaigns in mid and north Pinellas County. It will also serve as a hub for community outreach, voter registration and election information.
“We have crucial county and statewide elections in 2021 and 2022. There are no ‘off’ years anymore in American politics,” said Pinellas Democrats’ Chair Lucinda Johnston. “We need to be present and active in our communities all the time. This Outreach Center will help us connect with Democrats and all hardworking families in the important communities of mid and north county.”
The center is a big step and a strategic move for local Democrats. With midterm elections on the horizon, the Party hopes to improve upon a dismal 2020 cycle across the state and in Pinellas County. It will do so at a time when they are battling historic precedent that typically sees Democrats in power in Washington perform poorly in midterm elections.
North Pinellas County has traditionally been a difficult area for Democrats, with most areas leaning slightly or heavily red. And with redistricting occurring this year, districts could shift even more toward Republicans’ favor when maps are redrawn.
That could have major implications for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. As currently drawn, CD 13 leans Democrat, with about 23,000 more Democrats than Republicans. The district spans most of Pinellas County but leaves out parts of north county, where a high concentration of registered Republicans live. If lawmakers shift the district’s boundary north, it could cut into or even eliminate Democratic advantage, making outreach in that part of the county crucial as the Party seeks to hold onto that seat in Congress.
This year, CD 13 is an open race, with incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist running instead for Governor. That leaves Republicans salivating at the chance to reclaim the seat, which for decades had been under Republican leadership under the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young and, later and briefly, David Jolly, who now is a registered independent.
The new Outreach Center houses offices, meeting rooms, and space for volunteers to conduct campaign activities.
“There’s enough outdoor space to hold events, community service activities, and voter registration drives,” said Tice Ridley, the Pinellas County Democrats’ vice-chair. “We plan to be present and fully engaged.”
The Party is planning, as one of its first events at the new center, a food distribution event with Feeding America.
“Democrats understand that a lot of people are still suffering economically, and we aim to do everything we can to help,” Ridley added.
The Party also plans a grand opening celebration later this summer.
“Good barbecue encourages good political conversation, and we are planning for a great turnout,” said Trevor Mallory, second vice president of the Pinellas Democratic Black Caucus.