Democrats could turn Mar-a-Lago blue

Back in October, Donald Trump declared Mar-a-Lago his official place of residence. Now we’re all focused on sending him back to his tawdry club in Palm Beach on a full-time basis, but you know what would be even sweeter? Sending him back to a Palm Beach represented by a progressive Democrat who is absolutely his polar opposite.

Jim Bonfiglio is running to represent the 89th district in the Florida House of Representatives after a razor-thin, 32-vote loss in 2018. As Democrats gear up for a run at flipping the Florida House this year, the 89th district represents their juiciest and sweetest opportunity. Bonfiglio actually lives miles down on the same street as Trump, but everything about Bonfiglio stands in stark contrast with the greedy, corrupt, and grossly incompetent president. The comparisons are pretty direct and frankly staggering:

Example 1: Trump spent his life as a predatory landlord and dirty real estate scam artist. Bonfiglio has worked as a foreclosure defense attorney for the last 32 years, fighting tooth and nail to save people’s homes.

“It’s very satisfying, trying to help people save their homes,” Bonfiglio tells Progressives Everywhere, noting that he’s helped see through beleaguered homeowners through three financial crises, dating back to the Savings and Loan Crisis in the 1980s.

“You get people at their worst and you try to save their houses for them,” he continues. “There’s usually a good reason why they fell behind on the mortgage. Most of the time it’s medical bills, loss of job or divorce. I like to try to help people get through the bad times and get to a better part of their lives.”

Example 2: Trump has a long history of bilking employees and contractors, refusing to pay them for their hard work. Bonfiglio, meanwhile, conducts free seminars to teach young lawyers across Florida how to protect working people facing unfair foreclosure.

During the 2007 economic crisis, which walloped Florida particularly hard, Bonfiglio also hosted free walk-up clinics with volunteer attorneys so that people facing foreclosure could get advice and legal counsel, free of charge.

“People would come all day long, we’d hook up an attorney with a client, and they’d sit down and talk to them and try to figure out if there’s any way they could save their house,” he says. “When foreclosure peaked in 2007 and 2008, I’d give my whole Fridays too. People would come in every half an hour and it was always illness, job loss, divorce, and if I can’t save this house, I don’t know where I’m going to stay.”

CLICK HERE to donate to Jim Bonfiglio’s campaign via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue page!

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Florida’s new Jim Crow law is worse than ever

So, last week was a pretty bad one for American democracy. While it began with the excitement of Tiffany Cabán’s win in the Queens District Attorney race, followed by a solid first (and second!) Democratic presidential debate, things went off the rails thanks to the stolen Supreme Court and, more than likely, voter suppression in Florida.

First, the Supreme Court cleared the way for state legislatures to gerrymander legislative and congressional districts to their heart’s content, no matter how partisan or racist their motivations (and they’re always partisan or racist). This was a bummer, but not unexpected, and really just underlines the importance of winning back as many state legislatures and governorships as we can.

It’s going to be hard to do that in some states, not only because of gerrymandering, but also due to voter suppression. Preventing people from casting their ballots is what Republicans do best (other than funnel money to their rich donors), and no small distraction like the will of an overwhelming majority of voters can stop them from pursuing the most anti-democratic policies possible — especially not when the impact would be so efficiently discriminatory against people of color.

Their sheer determination to be dictators of an apartheid state led to the other big blow to democracy last week: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who only won last fall because so many voters in the state are unfairly disenfranchised, signed a Republican law that will keep most of those voters disenfranchised.

In November, despite voter suppression, a whopping 65% of Floridians voted to approve Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights to the state’s 1.4 million formerly incarcerated citizens who have served their full sentences and finished probation. Notably, there were no conditions attached to the voter initiative, but the GOP, terrified as always of real democracy, decided to twist it into a modern-day Jim Crow law.

Now, the formerly incarcerated will have to pay off all fees and fines related to their cases, no matter how absurd they were (and they’re often insane) and how hard it is to track them down.

It’s no coincidence that a majority of these would-be voters are black — again, there’s nothing that scares Republicans more than black people voting. Though black people make up just 17% of Florida’s population, they represent 48% of its prison population. As a result, about 20% of black adults are disenfranchised in Florida, which is one of the only states that take those voting rights away permanently in the first place. Now, instead of listening to a vast majority of their registered voters, Republicans are now charging people huge sums of money to register to vote.

Estimates are that this could keep up to 1.1 million of those who were made eligible to vote last November out of the voting booth. We already have a democracy dominated by rich white people, but every financial and historic advantage in the world still isn’t enough for them.

The ACLU and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, along with other organizations, have already filed a lawsuit over the law, but it’s unclear what kind of luck they’ll have. The FRCC, which led the successful campaign for Amendment 4, is now raising money to help pay off all those fines. There is no better use of your donation dollars — every dollar will directly help to register voters (who are, after this, likely to not support the GOP). You can donate HERE. And if you want to give to the FRCC, which is singularly focused on this, you can donate on Progressives Everywhere’s main ActBlue page.