In Bilingual Ad Buy, Ex-Bernie Aides Push Florida to Back Biden

Pinellas County poll worker Jeanne Coffey wears a protective shield as she worked the front door at the Coliseum Ball Room during the state’s primary election on Aug. 18, 2020, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Scott Keller/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

MIAMI (CN) — Vying to energize Latino voters in the country’s biggest bellwether state, two political action committees steered by former aides of Senator Bernie Sanders announced Thursday that they will spend $2.2 million on an unprecedented Florida ad blitz.

The four-week-long program is set to correspond with early voting, encompassing TV, mail and digital ads in both Spanish and English.  

Nuestro PAC and America’s Progressive Promise PAC call it the “the most comprehensive in-language Florida Latino outreach program in the lead up to the presidential election.” 

“Intentional direct spending on outreach to Latinos in Florida is exactly what Vice President Biden needs at this moment to ensure victory against the most racist president in modern American history,” Chuck Rocha, founder of Nuestro PAC, said in a statement on Thursday.  

Rocha had been a senior adviser on Sanders’ 2020 campaign, and America’s Progressive Promise was founded by former top Sanders aide Jeff Weaver. Together, they have worked on several pro-Biden campaigns in swing states across the country.  

“In the primary campaign, we saw the extraordinary power Latinos have to shift election outcomes and political narratives — but we must work for their votes,” Weaver said Thursday.

“The challenge in these final weeks is to speak to the community with the incredibly high testing creative we have produced,” he added. “Sadly there’s a lot of cookie-cutter advertising out there that just does not move the needle. We are working day and night to change that.” 

When it comes to Florida’s voter-registration numbers, Democrats have long enjoyed an advantage. According to data from the Florida Division of Elections, however, the gap between Democrats and Republicans having registered has recently narrowed to just 1.3 percentage points.  

Among numbers that caused Florida’s Latino population to become a focal point by both presidential campaigns, an NBC News and Marist poll found that President Donald Trump was leading Biden among Latino voters by 4 points in early September. Recent polling shows Trump and Biden are running neck-and-neck in the state.  

The PACs focus solely on Latino outreach, an area where they say Biden’s campaign struggles “as he continues to underperform compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016.” 

Other prominent Democrats have taken a different approach in trying to bolster the Latino vote in Florida.

Yet another ex-2020 candidate, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, along with his political operation, raised over $16 million last week to pay court fines and fees for more than 30,000 Black and Latino voters in Florida with felonies. 

The state made it legal for ex-felons to vote just last year, but litigation remains ongoing over whether Republicans illegally undermined that initiative with SB 7066, a law requiring felons to pay all restitution, fines and fees before they are eligible to vote.

Florida’s Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody requested Wednesday that the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement look into the Bloomberg campaign for “potential violations of election laws.” 

Escalating his outreach efforts, Biden has made visits to South Florida, ramped up targeted ad campaigns and touted his recovery plan for Puerto Rico. 

But Trump has ramped up his efforts, too, most recently by visiting Florida to honor veterans of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

Nuestro says it is partnering with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and VoteVets as part of the advertisement initiative.   

“We are going to make sure every single Latino voter in Florida has all of the information they need to cast their vote on November 3rd,” Rocha added.

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