by SC Reporter Teresa Vazquez
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated to include biographical information on Bob Schaeffer.
Sanibel resident and National Political Consultant Bob Schaeffer examined numerous electoral races, ballot questions and the “blue tsunami” Thursday at the Progressive Club of the Islands’ (PCI) monthly meeting held via Zoom.
Schaeffer, who is co-author of “Winning Local and State Elections: The Guide to Organizing Your Campaign,” discussed the steps grassroots activists and Progressives can take for the most impact during his “Opportunity 2020: How You Can Help Progressives Win Big” analysis to the PCI group.
“Realistically, Donald Trump cannot be reelected as president of the United States unless he wins Florida,” Schaeffer said. “The numbers just don’t work.”
Trump would have to “sweep the rest of the field in order to be elected without Florida,” he said. Unsurprisingly, Florida remains a key state in the presidential race due to its 29 electoral votes, noted Schaeffer.
Taking back the swing states lost to Trump in the 2016 elections would be an incredible win for the Democratic party, according to Schaeffer. In his analysis, Schaeffer outlined the races that Progressives should focus their energy on in Southwest Florida. The area has a high percentage of Republican voters making most areas safe “higher ground.”
“Even in a tsunami higher ground is not flooded,” Schaeffer said. “Unfortunately, Lee County and Collier County and much parts of Southwest Florida have been and remain Republican high ground. [It] would take a very large tsunami wave to knock off Republicans in the area.”
Nonetheless, a notable campaign for Progressives in the area is the mayoral race for the City of Fort Myers. The city is a “speck of blue in a sea of red,” Schaeffer said, regarding the race between Democrat Jacquelyn McMiller and Republican Kevin Anderson. These specks of blue are part of the overall wave. To add volume to the wave Schaeffer suggested three steps Progressives can take.
“How do we make this tsunami real and huge? Three ways: mobilization, messaging and money raising,” he said.
Schaeffer added that the first thing Progressives should be doing, given the lack of possible victories in the area, is to raise money for other campaigns to help them push forward. Most importantly, the Biden for President campaign and the U.S. Senate races.
As for mobilization, Schaeffer encouraged volunteering for mail ballot sign-up, assuring the mail ballots are cast and reaching out to as many people as possible. Finally, messaging involves ensuring family and friends are registered to vote, submitting letters to editors and posting on social media.
Since moving to Sanibel in l999, Schaeffer has organized the Florida civic engagement table, which coordinates nonpartisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities. He has staffed the Florida environmental funders collaborative, and played a leadership role for several ballot questions and local races.
Schaeffer currently serves as president of FairDistrict Now, the statewide redistricting reform organization, and treasurer of the Progress Florida Education Institute, which runs issue-oriented messaging campaigns. He is also a strategic communications consultant for social change organizations and campaigns in Boston, Washington D.C. and Colorado, as well as in Florida.
To round out the PCI meeting, Fort Myers Democratic mayoral candidate Jacquelyn McMiller shared a bit of her story and thanked the group for their support throughout her campaign. She is the blue speck in the red sea. “I can’t do this without you guys,” she said. “Without no you, there’s no me.”
Next month the Progessive Club of the Islands will hold a forum with local candidates.