Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith kicks off re-election campaign at The Abbey

By : Jeremy Williams
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ORLANDO | “We have all heard him say, and I want you to say it with me, ‘I am a proud progressive, liberal, feminist, gay, Latino, Democrat,’” state Rep. Amy Mercado (D-48) said from the stage, speaking of state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-49), at The Abbey Jan. 5.

Mercado, along with many liberal progressives—among them Florida House District 47 candidate Anna Eskamani, former state Rep. Joe Saunders and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer—joined Smith as he kicked off his 2018 re-election campaign .

Before Smith took the stage, Eskamani spoke to the large crowd about why being at The Abbey was significant.

“How appropriate that we gather here tonight at The Abbey, a venue with incredible staff,” Eskamani said. “One where Carlos announced his victory in 2016. Where I kicked off my own campaign back in August. This is the place where winners are made.”

Eskamani told the crowd that Smith was the reason she had gotten into politics and the reason she was running for District 47.

“I first met Carlos over seven years ago at the University of Central Florida. I was a college Democrat and he was the chief of staff to Rep. Scott Randolph. Always the ball of positive energy, Carlos invested in young progressives and became a source of mentorship and inspiration to young activists and organizers like me,” she said. “Today, Carlos has proven to all of us that he is a progressive leader who gets shit done. He came up to Tallahassee with a bold vision, and not just one for his own state but one for his own party.”

Eskamani listed off several of Smith’s accomplishments since becoming a Florida House representative: Bringing $2.5 million to the UCF PTSD clinic for vets and first responders, the greyhound protection bill, getting the first committee hearing to decriminalize personal use cannabis and his work on helping to defeat NRA-backed open carry gun laws, to name a few.

“I not only want Carlos in Tallahassee, I need Carlos in Tallahassee,” Eskamani said.

With that, Smith took the stage to cheers and applause from the crowd.

“It has been a heck of a year serving you all in the Florida House of Representatives,” Smith said. “Being back here at The Abbey reminds me of that election night and how quickly it evolved into absolute chaos. After I was elected, what happened was the unimaginable. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Once that reality sunk in for me, as it did for you, I realized that you would be depending on me so much more to be leading the resistance.”

Smith began to recount his accomplishments since getting elected to the Florida House, but also looked ahead at what he intends to accomplish in his second term.

“I passed my first policy bill on the floor of the House of Representatives to crack down on the abuses on greyhound racing dogs across the state of Florida. We are going to finish the job this year by not only getting it signed by the governor but also when the voters finally have a chance to shut greyhound racing down permanently in Florida,” Smith said.

“I stood by many of the Pulse heroes and first responders suffering from PTSD like Officer Gerry Realin and Corporal Omar Delgado, who saved our friend Angel [Colon], who stood with them when no one else would,” Smith continued. “I’m proud to stand with Rep. Victor Torres as a co-sponsor of the Worker’s Compensation for First Responders with PTSD bill. We’re going to get that passed.”

Smith, who has not been a quiet voice in Tallahassee, told the crowd that in order to get some things done you have to get in people’s faces.

“When we get in their faces that is when we finally make them understand that our issues matter, our people matter and that our dignity matters,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

Smith also took the opportunity to call out Florida Gov. Rick Scott who, Smith says, promised Equality Florida an executive order protecting LGBTQ people from employment discrimination after Pulse.

“Month after month they came up with a new excuse, quietly behind the scenes, for their inaction until finally we said, ‘Enough. You are lying.’ We have to stand up and tell the truth when Gov. Scott is lying,” Smith said.

Smith also drew attention to how his campaign is raising funds. Earlier that day, Smith posted a picture of a check for $1,000 from Wal-Mart made out to the Campaign to Elect Carlos Guillermo Smith. The check had the phrase “NO THANKS” written across it in black marker.

“Just like our 2016 campaign that swept me into office, our 2018 re-election WILL NOT rely on corporate contributions to win! REAL– yet unsolicited campaign checks like this one from Wal-Mart were promptly thrown in the trash! WE MUST RELY ON THE PEOPLE! That’s YOU!” the post read.

At the campaign rally, Smith said he then tore up the check and threw it away.

“There are many checks we had to turn away,” he said. “Big Sugar, I’m not taking that money. Even, if you can believe it, from a greyhound track owner. We aren’t relying on them, we are relying on you. Thank you for having my back.”

(Above image courtesy Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith’s Facebook.)

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