Is Joe Biden Making a Play for Florida?

Make no mistake about it: Florida is a red state now. Though it has historically been a bellwether battleground state ferociously fought over by both parties, thanks to Gov. Ron DeSantis, it leans predominantly Republican. The last Democrat to win the state was Barack Obama in 2012, and the Democratic Party has struggled there ever since. Now registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by roughly 850,000.

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So, is Joe Biden gonna try to win the Sunshine State this year?

In a campaign memo from earlier this month, Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez and campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said that the campaign will “invest in key Sun Belt battlegrounds like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina where Democrats have seen successes in recent years.” 

Conspicuously absent from the list was Florida.

Last week, the Biden-Harris announced its campaign leadership in the state, and Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried insisted that the state party had “complete confirmation that the Biden campaign, as well as national surrogates and national partners, will be investing dollars here.”

So, maybe the Biden-Harris campaign is making an effort in Florida this year? Maybe? Perhaps?

Regardless of whom you believe there, not everyone is convinced that the campaign is making a serious push to flip the state.

Miami Herald reporter Fabiola Santiago, for one, panned the campaign’s feeble launch of its Hispanic voter outreach, which was introduced by Fried, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

“Three gringos launching ‘Latinos con Biden-Harris’ in posh Coral Gables,” Santiago wrote. “Sad trombone.”

Related: Could This Trump State Flip to Biden in November?

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“Strategically, the optics made no sense in a county where the Republican Party effort to recruit voters is year-round and personal — and ex-president Donald Trump’s presence is a staple,” Santiago pointed out. “And we’re supposed to believe the Democratic Party hasn’t given up on Florida?

Santiago lamented that Biden, Harris, and other top party surrogates have been deployed to other, more competitive states:

Sending the Second Gentleman, as charming as he is, means we aren’t an important state. He isn’t a top presidential campaign surrogate in the party like the Obamas and Clintons. He’s not a rising star relevant to Latinos like California Senator Alex Padilla, son of Mexican immigrants and climate change combatant, credited with passage of the POWER On Act to address disasters. Or like eloquent New York congressman Hakeem Jeffries, in line to be speaker of the House if Democrats regain the majority.

[…]

Democrats could have brought to town Biden’s education secretary, Miguel Cardona, a respected educator born in Connecticut of Puerto Rican parents. He could’ve eloquently taken on the diminishing value of a Florida education based on GOP political indoctrination, the way the state is alienating instead of embracing minorities, and the appointments of the governor’s cronies to important education posts. 

The highest-ranking voice in education providing a contrasting view to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz would’ve made news. 

Democrats also could have brought to the launch Biden’s Cuban American Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — and pushed back very publicly locally on the sham effort by Republicans, including the Cuban Americans from Miami in Congress, to impeach him.

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Considering Biden’s current fundraising advantage, it seems likely that Biden will spend some money to at least give the appearance the campaign is taking the Sunshine State seriously and that they aren’t writing it off. After all, a president who can’t expand his map typically won’t win reelection. But hey, if Biden wants to invest in Florida, he’s certainly welcome to waste money there.

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