Tilting Florida Blue

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Source: Capital Research Center, by Shane Devine, September 15, 2020

The Left’s voter mobilization campaign aims to transform several states into secured Democratic majorities. One of the most prominent entities driving this is the State Power Caucus, a coalition of 22 organizations from 15 states, including California CallsNew Virginia Majority, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Spearheading its Florida front is a group called the New Florida Majority.

The New Florida Majority is an advocacy and voter mobilization group that aims to “create an inclusive multiracial, multilingual and multicultural movement” to decisively seize Florida from Republicans, controlling both the state government and the state’s national electoral votes.

It is attempting to do this by targeting communities “that have been historically marginalized, excluded, and silenced” with campaigns centered around immigration reform, decreasing incarceration rates, and making it easier to vote. It also champions pro-abortion legislation and environmentalist measures.

Amendment 4 and Hurricane Matthew

New Florida Majority has achieved major wins for this platform. For example, in 2018, Florida voters passed Amendment 4 to the Florida state constitution, giving voting rights to 1.2 million convicted felons. The New Florida Majority and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition accomplished this by working together to collect 1 million signatures to put the initiative on the ballot. Of the 1.2 million felons, 52 percent were Democrats, 33 percent were independents, and 14 percent were Republicans.

Since registering potential Democratic voting blocs and criminal justice reform are two major currents of the left-wing voter mobilization movement, this amendment and New Florida Majority’s role in passing it should be seen as a massive victory of their movement and a portent of what is to come in other states.

The New Florida Majority also registered 31,000 new voters in 2017, helped pass the $15 per hour minimum wage in Miami, and helped 108,000 additional people to register to vote in 2016 by helping the Florida Democratic Party sue then-Governor Rick Scott (R) to expand the registration period due to Hurricane Matthew.

Efforts for 2020

The New Florida Majority is continuing its efforts to register new voters ahead of the 2020 election. It lists phone banking and “get out the vote” volunteer opportunities on its website to help the Democrats and presidential nominee Joe Biden in November. It also stays active by writing press releases and blog posts on local and national events, attempting to generate outcry on topics such as racial injustice, infringement on reproductive rights, and alleged voter disenfranchisement. New Florida Majority also provides readers the ability to donate to its “COVID-19 relief fund,” which redirects to the New Florida Majority Education Fund’s coffers.

Funding

By way of funding, identifying New Florida Majority’s donors is difficult because it is a 501(c)(4) “dark money” group. But according to the Tides Foundation’s publicly available tax filings, it gave $50,000 to New Florida Majority and $350,000 to New Florida Majority Education Fund in 2018. Tides Advocacy gave an additional $150,000 to New Florida Majority Education Fund that same year.

New Florida Majority Fund’s receipts are easier to track because it is registered as a 501(c)(3). In addition to Tides, it has received $200,000 from the Arabella Advisors–managed New Venture Fund, $40,000 from Proteus Fund, $345,000 from NEO Philanthropy, $447,500 from the Marguerite Casey Foundation between 2015 and 2016, and $3,865,000 from the Ford Foundation between 2015 and 2018.

Radical Connections

While the New Florida Majority bills itself as a mainstream social justice group, several of the people involved in the project have connections to radical, far-left groups.

Jon Liss, a co-founder of State Power Caucus and New Virginia Majority, is a career organizer who endorsed the Inside-Outside Project, a collaboration among the “Communist PartyDemocratic Socialists of America, Left Roots, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, and Liberation Road, which was formerly known as the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.” He also endorsed the Right to the City Alliance, a coalition of 40 “New Working Class” organizations, which in Liss’s words promotes “a collective vision for our cities—for all, green, feminist.” The Ford Foundation gave Liss and four other colleagues an award, which included a $100,000 stipend.

Badili Jones, a political officer at New Florida Majority from 2012 to 2013, was a member of Liberation Road (Freedom Road Socialist Organization), the Communist Party USA, the February 2nd Movement, the Revolutionary Workers League (an American Trotskyist group), and the African Liberation Support Committee. According to the author biography on an essay he wrote on dialectical materialism, Jones is a professed “Marxist socialist” who was a part of the New Communist Movement.

The president of the New Florida Majority, Andrea Cristina Mercado, is a co-founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a labor activist group tied to the alt-labor movement, which is supported by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and the Marguerite Casey Foundation.

Mainstreaming the Fringe Left

This goes to show that what is deemed mainstream among liberals now—such as identity politics, defunding the police, letting felons vote, and abolishing ICE and the enforcement of immigration laws—was confined to the most fringe corners of the radical left a decade ago, and that what is considered fringe today will in all likelihood become mainstream a decade from now.

This process does not happen through some nebulous osmosis of ideas but directly through the collaboration of radical activists with upbeat, seemingly mainstream groups such as New Florida Majority, bankrolled by the usual suspects including the Tides Foundation, Arabella Advisors subsidiaries, and the Ford Foundation.

 

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