After announcing efforts to register voters across the Sunshine State last week, the Florida Democratic Party and former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum bolted out of the gate to flip the state in 2020 and deny President Donald Trump a second term.
Florida Democratic Party (FDP) Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo announced a host of new hires on Friday.
“Florida is ground zero for the 2020 presidential race, and that’s why the Florida Democrats are starting early to turn our state blue and put a Democrat in the White House,” said Rizzo. “We’re taking nothing for granted and are going to organize in every corner of our state. By investing early in field, data, and messaging, we are laying the groundwork for Democratic victories in 2020 — from county commission races to the White House.”
The FDP announced the following hires and promotions with plans to bring in “eight regional organizers, a statewide training director, a municipal victory program director and a voter protection director” later in the election cycle.
The new hires include:
Christina Diamond –– Senior Advisor
Diamond joins the Florida Democratic Party as a senior advisor and has also served as the party’s finance director under Congresswoman Karen Thurman. She had previously served as Florida finance director for Florida Senator Bill Nelson and was the Central Florida finance director for Jim Davis’ gubernatorial campaign.
Will Zigler –– Data Director
Zigler specializes in political data and first worked in Florida in 2012 when he was part of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. Zigler served as data director for the Texas Democratic Party for 2014 and in 2018 served in that role for the Missouri Democratic Party.
Taehan Lee –– Deputy Director of Data and Reporting
Lee joins the Florida Democratic Party after serving as the data and analytics director for Gery Chico’s campaign for mayor of Chicago. Lee worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as part of their recount data team in Florida and was part of the Missouri Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign in 2018. Lee has also worked as a foreign policy legislative assistant in the South Korean parliament for Assembly Member Lee In Young.
Catherine Theriault –– Deputy Director of Analytics
Theriault is returning to the Florida Democratic Party, having worked at the party as a field organizer in 2014 and is driven by her passion for data-driven campaigns. During the 2018 cycle, Theriault was an organizer in Broward county for NextGen America and served as the finance director for Lori Berman’s state senate campaign. For the 2016 cycle, Theriault served as deputy field director for State Senator Jeff Clemens. She holds a masters in political science from Florida Atlantic University.
Chrisney Frederick –– VAN Administrator
Frederick served as a Florida Democratic Party field organizer for the 2018 cycle. In 2016, Frederick was a part of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Florida. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, and served as a for survey developer and interviewer for the university’s Public Opinion Research Lab.
Ella K. Coffee –– Community Engagement Director for Tampa Bay
Coffee was a Tampa City Council candidate for the 2019 cycle. Coffee served as an education, recruitment and training specialist for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections and prior to that served as the supervisor’s African-American liaison outreach assistant. She has also been a political consultant working on campaigns for Florida state house races and Tampa mayoral campaigns.
Harrison Angelis –– Community Engagement Director for Central Florida
Angelis served as a field organizer for the Florida Democratic Party in Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy’s successful re-election campaign in 2018 and was a fellow for the party in 2016. Between the 2016 and 2018 election cycles he served as a staff assistant for Congressman Val Demings in her district office. Angelis is a 2016 graduate of Stetson University.
Alex Berrios –– Community Engagement Director for Martin, Indian River, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties
Berrios is returning to the Florida Democratic Party after serving as a field organizer in 2018 and was a recount site lead after the election. He is the founder of the Palm Beach County Youth Foundation and is a business owner, being the owner of Tactical Boxing and Fitness since 2005.
Luisana Pérez Fernández –– Hispanic Press Secretary
Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Perez Fernández attended the Universidad Central de Venezuela and the Institute Seni of Indonesia. Her professional background includes District Director for State Senator José Javier Rodríguez, Hispanic Press Secretary for the Bill Nelson for US Senate Campaign, and communications intern for the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has also been involved in working with immigrants’ rights organizations in the United States as a volunteer and organizer.
Alex Morash –– Statewide Press Secretary
Morash left being the spokesperson and media director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, the oldest national LGBTQ advocacy organization in the United States, to join the Florida Democrats. Prior to joining the Task Force, he was the economic policy researcher for Media Matters for America and has bylines in The Advocate Magazine, The Washington Blade, Salon, and AlterNet. He holds a masters in political science from Northeastern University and is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Devon Murphy-Anderson –– Deputy Finance Director South Florida
Murphy-Anderson graduated from Guilford College in North Carolina with degrees in Women’s Studies, Religious Studies, and Economics. Most recently, Murphy-Anderson was the Finance Director for Liuba Grechen Shirley’s campaign for Congress in NY-02 against entrenched Republican incumbent Peter King.
Sam Cook –– Assistant to the Executive Office
Born and raised in North Carolina, Cook came to Florida in mid-2017 to join the 2018 election cycle. Cook worked on campaigns across the state as part of a consulting firm, including the campaign of Lori Alhadeff, mother of a Parkland shooting victim and a member of Broward County School Board for district 4. After working on campaigns around the state, Cook joined the FDP to stay involved in Florida.
The promotions include:
Lauren Calmet Promoted to Political Director
Lauren Calmet has been promoted to Political Director after joining FDP as Deputy Political Director in 2017. She previously served as the Director of Community Affairs for the Florida Coalition for Children where she was recognized for her advocacy by the Tallahassee Democrat, the Girl Scout Council, and the Children’s Home Society. Calmet has served in leadership positions with the Florida Young Democrats, the New Leaders Council and as a Guardian Ad Litem.
Rachel Berger Promoted to Party Affairs Director
Berger is from Pasco County and graduated from Florida State University. While completing her degree in Tallahassee, Berger joined the Florida Democratic Party as a student intern in 2015. After working with the data team through the 2016 cycle, Berger joined the Party Affairs department in 2017.
Kevin Donohoe Promoted to Senior Communications Advisor/Chief Spokesperson
Donohoe will serve as the Florida Democratic Party senior communications and chief spokesperson. Donohoe will be focused on the legislative session and based in Tallahassee. Donohoe previously served as the Party’s gubernatorial race spokesperson during the 2018 cycle and was the Virginia Democratic Coordinated Campaign’s communications director in 2017.
In the meantime, Gillum has launched his “Bring It Home Florida” with the specific purpose of registering voters for 2020 and pushing a liberal agenda.
“Bring It Home Florida will focus on Florida’s most pressing issues, including gun safety, expanding health care to every Floridian, protecting our environment, ensuring equality for our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, and making Florida a more fair state for everyone,” the new group noted on Friday.
“I’m exceedingly proud of the everyday people who are building on our movement and momentum from the last two years. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and the only way we will build a progressive future for Florida is by working on the ground in our communities,” said Gillum.
“Our movement is ready to build on the incredible grassroots excitement and enthusiasm that Mayor Gillum led in 2018. We’re ready to take Florida back by ensuring that the voices of everyday Floridians are heard at every level of our government,” Millie Raphael, who helped found Bring It Home Florida, said.
Over on the Republican side, one of the most prominent GOP leaders sounded the alarm on Democrats ramping up their activities on Florida.
“I just learned that Democrats have labeled Florida one of their top targets, and what’s worse, they’re teaming up with Democrats from six other states to flip Florida,” noted U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Friday. “We’re still 18 months out, but the Left is already mobilizing. This is not a good sign.”
Rubio also pointed to traditionally red states where Democrats were making gained.
“Last year, we saw what well-funded Democrats are capable of in red states like Georgia and Texas. They successfully turned several Republican strongholds into blue wave battlegrounds, and we cannot let it happen again,” Rubio insisted. “There’s just too much on the line now and in 2020.”
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.