Largest Coalition Aimed at Black and Brown Voters in Florida Endorses Biden

A coalition of grassroots groups in Florida looking to reach 3.5 million Black and Latino infrequent voters before Election Day is endorsing Joe Biden for president, Newsweek has learned.

The Florida for All Coalition, which is running the largest independent expenditure in the state, is the largest Black and Latino-led effort in 19 counties in Florida.

Asked about why they were endorsing Biden now and what their message was to voters in this late-stage of the race, leaders of groups within the coalition said the choice was simple, yet stark.

"The survival of our people and our planet, essentially," said Maria Rodriguez, executive director of FLIC votes, the political arm of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. "After four years, the crisis deepens and deepens."

With their focus on immigrant's rights, Rodriguez said Donald Trump's presidency has included over 400 executive actions on immigration that have been harmful.

"They're actively dismantling the few protections that we have."

The endorsement comes as Biden's performance in Florida with Latino voters has come under intense scrutiny, leading Mike Bloomberg to unleash $100 million in hopes of reaching Latino voters and seizing Florida for Democrats. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll Wednesday found Trump leading Biden 51 percent to 47 percent, a finding that had top pollsters from The New York Times and election data site FiveThirtyEight calling it one of his best polls of 2020.

So Biden will need every single voter of color engaged by the coalition, which has made over 2.23 million calls and sent texts to 827,000 voters with a pro-Biden message, since September 1st. The group notes that Trump won in 2016 by only 112,000 votes, when nearly 2.6 million Floridians of color did not vote.

"We reach out to the voters that both political parties tend to ignore," said Andrea Mercado, executive director of the New Florida Majority. "We are consistently engaging Black and brown communities year round, because we know that the largest group of swing voters are those who swing between voting and staying home."

Beyond New Florida Majority and FLIC Votes, the coalition includes Organize Florida, Dream Defenders Action, Florida Planned Parenthood PAC, and Service Employees International Union Florida, all part of a national $30 million Win Justice campaign. The coalition also endorsed a slate of local candidates, including Representatives Val Demings, Darren Soto, Charlie Christ, and many others down ballot.

These on the ground groups have been using digital and phone banking means to reach voters but told Newsweek they are currently deliberating regarding the risk of knocking on doors in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Progressive groups across the country, and Florida, find themselves in similar situations, an acknowledgement that Republican-led groups have been more willing to knock on doors and worry less about safety.

In lieu of door-knocking, the coalition has done socially distanced drops of election literature and talked to voters about how the current crisis is a public health crisis, but also one related to access to health care.

"If the disease doesn't kill you, the bill will kill you," is the succinct message from organizers, Rodriguez, who leads Latino outreach for the coalition, told Newsweek. Another message voters are getting on the ground is about Amendment 2, a Florida ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15. Voters are told "you can give yourself a raise, if legislators and your boss won't."

Moné Holder, who works at New Florida Majority, and leads the work engaging Black voters, said Democrats won't win if African-Americans aren't mobilized to the polls.

"We are building long term Black political power to ensure those we vote into office are held accountable and that Black communities and our issues are not left behind," she said.

biden endorsement
Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden arrives to deliver remarks at an aluminum manufacturing facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on September 21, 2020. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty