LAKE MARY — Seminole County Democrats said Friday their historically Republican county would turn blue this year as they welcomed Jill Biden to Lake Mary.
The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke at a small, invitation-only “Women for Biden” at the home of former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and his wife, Kim.
The crowd of about 30 was masked and socially distanced as Jill Biden spoke on a stage set up on Van Gundy’s outdoor basketball court.
“So many parents are telling me they don’t know what to do in these times, and they want to have answers for their kids,” Biden said. “And they’re asking me, Jill, how do I keep my family safe? … What if a shooting happens at our school? What if I lose my job? And how do I tell my kids to be kind when our leaders don’t live up to that same standard?”
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 215,000 people, Biden said, “all of us are feeling the chaos of this moment, the magnitude of loss that surrounds us.”
Jill Biden said that when her husband is president, “hopefully in 18 more days, you won’t read the news with tensed shoulders, or go to bed worrying about, ‘Oh my gosh, what is this government going to do?’”
She said her husband “is going to be the commander-in-chief who brings out our best, a president that our kids can look up to. Wouldn’t that be a nice change? But he can’t do it without you. Women know how to organize. We know how to fight for the people that we love. And we win elections.”
Seminole County, for decades a stalwart Republican area, has been trending more Democratic over the past few years.
President Trump received fewer votes there in 2016 than GOP candidate Mitt Romney did in 2012, winning the county by just 1.6 percentage points. Democrat Stephanie Murphy defeated longtime GOP incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica that same year, and in 2018, the county backed Democrat Andrew Gillum in the 2018 governor’s race over Republican Ron DeSantis.
“We’re here in Seminole County, I believe it’s a blue county, is that correct?” said Pasha Baker, the Democratic candidate for state House District 28, which includes all of Seminole.
Jane and Jim Dennan, Kim Van Gundy’s parents, said they’ve lived in Seminole County for 33 years, “and we see it turning,” Jane said. “It’s definitely trending that way.”
Grace Nelson, wife of former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, said she and her husband got to know the Bidens well when they served together in the Senate in the 2000s.
“There are no two finer people in government, then or today,” Nelson said.
She told how her mother, 100-and-a-half years old, wants to vote for Biden but has trouble signing her name.
“So Ellen, our daughter, has been on the phone all day with the Supervisor of Elections office, trying to find out what they do in situations like that,” Nelson said. “But she loves Joe, too, and she wants him to be president. So we’re gonna do whatever we can for the next three weeks to line all this up and help mother at 100-and-a-half find Joe’s name on the ballot.”
The event took place as Trump was holding an airport rally 60 miles away in Ocala, his second rally in Florida this week after one in Sanford on Monday.
Joe Biden was in Broward County on Tuesday, and Jill Biden was set to hold another event in St. Petersburg on Friday evening.
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