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Politics / Issues
WUSF News is committed to covering the upcoming presidential election with a focus on the issues – and not the political horse race. WUSF is pairing with WMFE in Orlando to cover the 2020 presidential election with a specific focus on the I-4 Corridor. We will focus on the issues and topics that matter most to voters in this crucial region, who could sway the election.

Bernie Sanders Latest Democratic Presidential Candidate To Open Campaign Office In Central Florida

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Vidar Nordli-Mathisen @vidarnm
Bernie Sanders new campaign office is in Winter Park.

Senator Bernie Sanders is the latest 2020 presidential candidate to open a campaign office in Central Florida. The Winter Park office will be used for grassroots training and events.

Rollins College assistant professor Josephine Balzac said she isn’t surprised that now two presidential candidates have opened offices in Central Florida.

Balzac says appealing to voters in this region is part of a winning campaign strategy.

“So I think it’s really important that they’re opening offices here and it really signals that point of how important the voter base is along the I-4 corridor.”

Balzac says this area is home to key demographics for both campaigns.

“They are recognizing the importance of the voters here. Also the importance of the young people that we have in this area-especially for the Bernie campaign which has since the last election of 2016 been proven to be a candidate for young people.”

She says the fact that other Democratic presidential candidates haven’t set up their offices here yet-and areas like it-might explain why they’re falling behind in recent polls.

“I believe that part of that is due to lack of strategy on their end. The Bernie campaign and the Bloomberg campaign. I think Bloomberg has opened close to ten offices all across Florida. I mean Florida is a swing state.”

Central Florida for Bernie Sanders’ Chad Albritton says they’ll be campaigning on issues which he believes are already important to Central Florida voters.

“His policies speak to the pervasive issues that continue to make life a struggle for most people. It’s policies like Medicare for All, Housing for All, the Green New Deal, criminal justice reform, and legalizing marijuana that have people shrugging the normal establishment candidates.”

Albritton says theme park workers in Orlando are the perfect example of how these different issues intersect.

“In Central Florida we have Disney and Universal making billions while their own workers struggle to pay for housing and transportation. Spending hours on bus rides or even sleeping in their cars.”

He says he hopes the office opening this week encourages voters to get out and register to vote in the Democratic primaries in March.

“Central Florida corridor-it decides elections. And it’s very important for those who want to have a say who feel that we’ve been going down the wrong path for too long. It’s vital for those people to come out and have their say have their voice heard.”

This story is part of the I-4 Votes project, a collaboration between the NPR stations in Tampa and Orlando. The project will spend 2020 focusing on the issues that matter to voters as they decide who they want to be President of the United States.