March 19, 2019 - 9:00am
Fresh off winning reelection earlier this month, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam is ramping up his possible bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Messam easily won a second term winning 86 percent of Miramar voters as 5,867 votes were cast in his favor. Last week, he launched an exploratory committee, showcasing his record in office and highlight his biography.
“As the first black mayor of one of the fastest-growing city economies in the country, Wayne Messam is on the front lines of the progressive fights of our time. From passing a living wage for city workers, to fighting to bring American jobs back from China, to leading the opposition to oil drilling in the Everglades, to passing ban the box, Wayne is a proven champion for change,” his team noted as it kicked off his efforts.
Messam also sounded a few potential campaign themes.
“The lack of urgency to plan for the future and take action on the crisis we can see coming is the biggest threat facing our nation. The gun violence epidemic continues to take far too many lives, climate change damages more homes and devastates more communities each year, skyrocketing healthcare costs cut off many Americans from the possibility of their American Dream, and crippling student loan debt leaves people of all ages with little hope for the future,” Messam said last week. “Washington is not working for the American people, and these big issues need fresh eyes and bold ideas from someone closer to the people, so our voice can be heard. Together, we can fundamentally change our country for the better and tackle these challenges with actions that match the scale and urgency of this moment. I do not believe that the best ideas come from Washington.
“Far too many of our friends and neighbors feel left behind and deserve someone in their corner who will fight for them. This moment requires leadership that will set us on a path to put the American Dream within reach for every single person in this country,” he added.
The son of Jamaican immigrants, Messam played as a wide receiver for the Florida State University (FSU) Seminole football team, including playing on the 1993 championship team. He was elected to the Miramar City Commission in 2011. In 2015, he upset Miramar Mayor Lori Cohen Moseley who had first been elected in 1999.
Now Messam, who hasn’t garnered much buzz as a candidate for statewide or congressional office in Florida, is setting his sites on the White House. Last week, he announced he is headed to South Carolina which holds its primary after Iowa and New Hampshire have their say.
Messam is also starting to talk up international issues. On Saturday, Messam announced he would soon be headed to the Middle East.
"After launching an exploratory committee for president, I thought it important to take the next step and visit with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders in-person to hear about the crisis that reverberates around the world,” Messam said. “The next president of the United States will also be commander in chief, so I hope to learn a great deal about how we can make the world a safer place for all people, but especially our men and women in uniform around the world. I look forward to a productive set of meetings with some of the leaders who have been directly involved in attempting to negotiate peace. America must lead the world again, but we will only effectively do so when we restore our role as an honest broker on the world stage."
In the improbable event he was elected president in 2020, Messam would not be the first mayor to serve in the White House as Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge also were mayors but they held higher offices, with all three serving as governors and two as vice presidents, when they became president. Mayors who sought the White House in recent election cycles--ranging from New York City Mayors Rudy Giuliani and John Lindsey to Irvine California Mayor Larry Agran to Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson--didn’t exactly set the world on fire when they ran for president.
Besides Messam, a far more prominent Florida Democrat is flirting with a potential presidential bid. Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who was edged by Republican Ron DeSantis in last year’s gubernatorial election, is teasing a big announcement on Wednesday night at Florida Memorial University (FMU) and he has opened the door to running for president.
Gillum made a pitch to supporters on Monday indicating that he will be trying to flip Florida in 2020 and will reveal “what’s next” on Wednesday night.
“I believe my highest and best calling is to fight right alongside you to turn Florida blue in 2020,” Gillum emailed supporters. “Last year, working shoulder to shoulder, we mobilized a progressive movement unlike anything this state had ever seen. More than 70,000 of you volunteered your time for our vision of a Florida that works for everyone. We worked our hearts out. Now, let's fight together to finish the job and make a progressive future for Florida a reality next year.”
While former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg closed the door to running for president in 2020, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is running in the Democratic primaries. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has also left the door open to a potential presidential bid.
The closest a sitting mayor ever came to becoming president was back in 1812 when New York Mayor DeWitt Clinton lost the election to incumbent President James Madison.