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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.

Florida Democrats Pushing Slate Of 400 Candidates

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Daylina Miller
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WUSF Public Media

Florida's Democrats had a decent showing during Tuesday's primaries. Now, the party is gearing up to contest several races they believe they have a chance to win in November.

Rosy Gonzalez Speers is in charge of the Democratic effort to get candidates on every ballot in Florida and said the party wants to capitalize on the momentum created by vote by mail: a large majority of voters cast their vote by mail Tuesday.

Speers said the focus has been on expanding vote-by-mail for November's presidential caontest, but it had a significant impact during the primaries.

"Vote-by-mail actually expanded the electorate for our down-ballot candidates," she said. "We saw an increase in turnout across the state, and we actually outpaced Republicans in terms of turnout in every demographic."

Speers says Florida Democrats are particularly excited about their chances of taking over the Republican-held Congressional seat now held by Ross Spano, who was defeated Tuesday in the seat representing Polk and eastern Hillsborough Counties. Democratic candidate Alan Cohn will face Republican Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin.

And she said she has high hopes for candidate Jessica Harrington, who is trying to take over the state House seat vacated last week by Republican Jamie Grant; and Julie Jenkins, who is running against incumbent Representative Jackie Toledo in Tampa.

Those candidates are part of the what the state party calls its “Sunshine Slate” of Democrats on the ballot this November. More than 400 Democrats are running for every state and local office.

"All politics is local, and our candidates and our investments will put an end to out-of-touch Republican leadership," Speers said, "and replace it with elected leaders who will stand up for Florida families and core Democratic values of equality, the environment, affordable healthcare, and an economy that works for every single one of us."

Democrats plan to spend $2 million on digital advertising for "down-ballot" candidates and "cutting edge data, digital and analytics tools to ensure campaigns make the most of their resources, "she said.

“Yesterday’s record Democratic turnout is evidence that our candidates were able to turn out the vote, but our work is not yet done,” said Terrie Rizzo, Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, in a prepared statement.

“From expanding Medicaid, to helping the unemployed, to safely re-opening schools, it is abundantly clear that local leaders have a profound impact on our lives. In addition to sending Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, Florida Democrats will work to elect every member of our Sunshine Slate."