Most of Miami's Democratic Politicians Skipped the Women's March

It wasn't that difficult to attend at least one event related to Saturday's Women's March on Washington. Marches were, in fact, planned in every single major American city and tons of smaller satellite cities, including tiny Lubbock, Texas; and Key West, Florida. Miami held its own rally at the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre, which concluded with a protest march through city streets. All you had to do was show up and march.

But most of Miami's major Democrats were apparently unable to do that.

With a few major exceptions, Miami's Democratic political vanguard — the folks South Floridians are relying on to act as #TheResistance against Donald Trump's racist, jingoistic, and anti-poor policies — couldn't be bothered to rearrange their schedules to attend the largest U.S. civil rights march since the Vietnam War. It appears more than half the elected Democrats in Miami-Dade County did not bother to show up.

In fact, Miami Beach commissioner and mayoral candidate Michael Grieco attended the South Beach Dachshund Winterfest, a dog parade and adoption event, rather than participate in any civil rights rallies. (Grieco's mayoral opponent, Dan Gelber, didn't show up either.)

"I had a commitment that predated the organization of the women’s event," Grieco said. "I was presenting at a dog festival on Miami Beach. They were relying on me, so I didn’t want to cancel on them." He added that he would have "absolutely" attended the Women's March had he not promised the Dachshund Winterfest organizers he'd be there.

"It’s to raise money for fostering animals; it was an animal-fostering event," Grieco said. "It's not just some high-fiving, playing-with-dogs kind of thing."

(For the sake of factual accuracy, a New Times photographer captured shots of dogs driving mini-Oscar Mayer Weiner mobiles, riding in strollers, drinking "dog martinis," and dressing in superhero costumes and cowboy hats.)
Fellow Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez not only attended Miami's women's march but also gave a rousing speech about the dangers of sea-level rise to thousands of attendees.

One other glaring absence: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who has billed himself as a Hillary Clinton booster and major anti-Trump force, does not appear to have attended either the D.C. or Miami march. Levine skipped both an event to show his resistance to Trump and a place for photo ops with his Democratic constituents. Given the fact that Levine will likely run for governor in 2018, the miss will be a glaring mark on his record.

Levine's office has not responded to multiple requests for comment; based on his social media presence and media reports, he does not appear to have attended the march. The same goes for Democratic state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, who did not seem to attend the event and did not return a call to his office. Neither State Rep. Roy Hardemon, nor his nephew, City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon appeared to attend. Neither did newly elected State Senator Daphne Campbell.

Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola did not attend but at least retweeted some pro-women's-march tweets, so there's that.

The absences don't end there: Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, whose district stretches from downtown Miami all the way up into Broward County, missed the event to attend a wedding, according to her spokesperson.

There were, however, at least a few bright spots. In addition to Rosen Gonzalez, City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell also gave a long speech at Bayfront Park, as did State Representative Daisy Baez and Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner. Former State Rep. Dwight Bullard was spotted waving a sign in the crowd outside Bayfront Park.

Not to be outdone, Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava flew all the way to Washington, D.C., to resist Trump on his home turf, as did South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson co-hosted an event Saturday with Wasserman Schultz.
Granted, Democratic officeholders in Miami are fairly hard to come by. Despite being inundated with blue voters, Miami tends to be structurally dominated by GOP politicians. Republican leaders such as Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado couldn't be bothered to even comment on the marches.

But it's disappointing to see such a pathetically low turnout among Miami's Democratic representatives: Millions of South Floridians will be relying on people such as Wilson, a sitting congresswoman, to fight Trump and his Republican lackeys in the next four years. During the Trump years, state governors will be the first line of defense for women, poor people, people of color, and LGBTQ Americans if (and when) the Trump administration cuts their federal resources.

If a politician like Mayor Levine wants to be taken seriously as a gubernatorial candidate, the least he could have done was take to the streets to support the millions of women who marched Saturday. Walking in the streets is the easy part.

This post has been updated to add more politicians, and to reflect U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's participation in a D.C. event Saturday.