The Florida Democratic Party has released its speaker lineup for Saturday’s Leadership Blue fundraising dinner in Hollywood.
As previously announced, former Vice President Joe Biden will headline the event at the Diplomat Beach Resort, which the party says has already raised $850,000.
Sen. Bill Nelson — the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida and a prime GOP target next year — will also speak. Three announced Democratic candidates for governor — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King — will appear in a panel discussion. There will also be a “Resistence Panel” moderated by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson.
More than two dozen names appear on the list of speakers and panelists released Wednesday by the state party.
Not among them: Hometown U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman whose House district includes the Diplomat Beach Resort.
Many in the party’s progressive wing accused Wasserman Schultz of favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential nominating contest before Wasserman Schultz stepped down as chairwoman at last summer’s Democratic National Convention. Clinton recently complained that the DNC under Wasserman Schultz’s leadership “was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong.”
Leslie Wimes of Boynton Beach, the president of the Democratic African-American Women’s Caucus, wrote in a Sunshine State News column on Tuesday that the “toxic” Wasserman Schultz was scheduled to speak at Saturday’s event and that “putting the most divisive figure in recent Florida Democratic political history on stage at its biggest fundraising event will be a big mistake.”
Tim Canova, who challenged Wasserman Schultz in a 2016 primary and announced Thursday he’s challenging her again in 2018, told his Facebook followers that “FDP leadership” proposed having Wasserman Schultz speak at the gala but backed down.
Wasserman Schultz’s office didn’t return calls requesting comment. Her spokesman David Damron told The Miami Herald Tuesday that Wasserman Schultz wasn’t speaking at the event.
The party wouldn’t comment on the Wimes or Canova claims except to say that the roster released Wednesday is the only official list of speakers.
Here’s the full list released by the party:
Our Voice, Our Issues Panel, 11:00-12:30 pm
Moderator: Representative Cynthia Stafford
Panelists: State Senator Oscar Braynon
State Represenative Carlos Guillermo Smith
Anna Eskamani, Planned Parenthood
Tom Conboy, South Florida Engineering and Consulting LLC
Mary Green, President of the Brevard Democratic Disability Caucus
Ghazala Salam, American Muslim Democratic Caucus
The Resistance Panel, 1:00-2:30 pm
Moderator: DeRay McKesson, Black Lives Matter; Pod Save the People, This is the Movement
Panelists: Dominik Whitehead, AFSCME and Lead Organizer on Betsy Devos HBCU protests
Ida Eskamani, Organize Florida
Charo Valero, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Maria Rodriguez, Florida Immigrant Coalition
Carrie Feit, Women’s March of Florida
Karla Hernandez Mats, United Teachers of Dade
Gubernatorial Panel, hosted by the Progressive Caucus of Florida, 3:00-4:30 pm
Moderator: Keith Fitzgerald, former State Representative
Panelists: Mayor Andrew Gillum
Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham
Leadership Blue Gala, 7:00-9:00 pm
Speakers: Former Vice President Joe Biden
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake
State Senator Oscar Braynon
State Senator Jeff Clemens
State Representative Janet Cruz
State Representative Kionne McGhee
State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith
Mayor Wayne Messam
Commissioner David Arreola
FDP Chair Stephen Bittel
FDP President Sally Boynton Brown