Broward Democrats split between moderate candidates; Bloomberg gains support

At a meeting on Feb. 18, many Broward Democrats said they have decided on either Pete Buttigieg or Joe Biden in the primary, but others are starting to consider Mike Bloomberg.

They talked about the candidates during the Broward Democratic Party meeting at the Edwin F. Deicke Auditorium in Plantation, where surrogates for the presidential campaigns and candidates for local offices handed fliers to voters. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Aventura) served as guest speaker.

“[Pete Buttigieg] is extremely intelligent,” said Shane Rogers-Mauro, a longtime Democrat who said he voted by mail earlier this month. “He knows policy. He knows about wars we shouldn’t have been in. He knows about the economy. I really was impressed with him, and he’s such a young guy.”

Gail A. DeAngelis, a Broward resident, said she would prefer to vote for a woman and has not yet ruled out Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but she sees Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor, as the most eloquent and viable candidate.

Other people said they support the former vice president. Some are still undecided, but are leaning toward Biden, Buttigieg or Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor.

Some think Biden’s political experience and record will help him secure votes. Others said that Bloomberg’s finances and personality set him apart from the other candidates and will help him win.

Bloomberg has been gaining nationwide support in the last months. On Tuesday, a national NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed him in second place with 19 percent of support — which qualified him for the next Democratic debate in Nevada Wednesday night.

He was behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who took first place with 31 percent, and ahead of Biden, whose sagging popularity is now at 15 percent.

During the meeting, Broward Democratic Party Chair Cynthia Busch summarized the party’s activities of the year, such as registering people to vote and requesting Medicare expansions for county residents.

Busch then welcomed Wasserman Schultz, who highlighted Democrats’ accomplishments in the House of Representatives after the party took over the chamber in the 2018 midterms. One item she mentioned, passing a bill to reduce drug prices under Medicare, has stalled in the Senate.

But the crowd cheered and applauded when Wasserman Schultz mentioned impeachment as another accomplishment. She received a standing ovation when she reminded attendees to keep the party united and vote for whichever candidate wins the nomination, because their goal is to beat President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump can never be elected president unless he wins the state of Florida,” said Wasserman Schultz. “And he cannot win the state of Florida if Broward County turns out. Are you ready?”

Rogers-Mauro had a similar appeal for unity, but directed it at the candidates. He said he understands contenders have to argue about policy, but does not think they should criticize each other for how they run their campaigns.

“Billionaire donations … I don’t see the reason for calling people out for those activities,” he said. “That’s the negatives that don’t help the party, they don’t help us win.”

Alejandra Marquez Janse is a Venezuelan journalism student minoring in political science. She is passionate about understanding policy and informing people on issues that affect them.