Maxwell Frost

Maxwell Frost speaks at a rally on June 28, 2022 as he campaigns for U.S. Congress in Florida's 10th District. (Photo: Maxwell Alejandro Frost for Congress/Flickr/cc)

Maxwell Frost Could Be Florida's Addition to Progressive Squad in US House

A voting rights advocate who supports Medicare for All, the former youth organizer who got his start after the Parkland school shooting looks ready to take over Rep. Val Demings' open seat.

Out of 10 Democrats running to replace U.S. Rep. Val Demings in Florida's 10th Congressional District, 25-year-old political organizer Maxwell Frost is likely to be elected over veteran state and federal lawmakers, according to a poll released by progressive think tank Data for Progress Monday.

The former March for Our Lives and ACLU organizer--who now drives an Uber to make ends meet while campaigning--was named by 34% of respondents in the survey as the Democrat they'd most likely vote for in Tuesday's primary.

"Maxwell understands that working people desperately need leaders in Congress who will stand up to powerful special interests."

State Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-11) came in a distant second with 18% of the vote and former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson was the only other candidate polling in the double digits, with 14%.

About 14% were undecided and 33% said they had already cast their ballots.

If Frost wins in the heavily Democratic district, he would be highly likely to win a seat in the U.S. House, becoming the first Afro-Cuban American and the first member of Generation Z in Congress, giving representation to those whose formative years have been shaped by rising economic inequality, racial justice protests, and an epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings.

Frost became politically active at age 15, canvassing to gather support for gun control reform after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. He survived an incident of gun violence three years later, and then became national organizing director for March for Our Lives, the group formed by survivors of the Parkland shooting in his home state.

"Someone the other day made the comment, '10 years ago, you were 15,'" Frost toldPolitico on Tuesday. "Yeah, I was 15--and how sad is it that we live in a country where at 15 I had to be worrying about being shot at my school so I sprung into action?"

Frost also worked with the ACLU, organizing in 2018 to pass Amendment 4--the law which restored voting rights to more than 1.6 million Florida residents who had been convicted of felonies--and in 2020 to secure a $15 minimum wage in the state. Both proposals were approved by more than 60% of voters in the swing state.

Frost's organizing experience left him feeling optimistic about the appeal of progressive proposals--regarding issues like gun control, abortion rights, or Medicare for All--in Florida and across the country, he told Teen Vogue on Monday.

"I like to bring up Amendment 4 because this is a very progressive idea and proposal," he told the outlet. "People who voted for [former President] Donald Trump looked at these two things and said, 'Yeah, that makes sense to me.'"

"I think we're showing a different way of meeting people where they're at, which is what organizing is really about, and showing this natural evolution to things like ensuring people have healthcare," Frost said. "I always talk about the fact that we deserve healthcare by virtue of being human, and by being alive, we deserve to be healthy... These types of conversations, real conversations, create a springboard for talking about policy that helps us achieve something like Medicare for All."

Frost also backs an assault weapons ban and background checks for all firearm sales, fully funded community-led violence intervention programs, a demilitarized police force, and a Green New Deal and Civilian Climate Corps to expand renewable energy infrastructure and draw down fossil fuel emissions.

The Orlando Sentinel selected Frost as its endorsed candidate earlier this month, with the editorial board writing, "We need young leaders like this for the hope that they bring. But Frost offers more than hope: He's done the work."

He has also been endorsed by progressive lawmakers including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the AFL-CIO, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC.

"Maxwell understands that working people desperately need leaders in Congress who will stand up to powerful special interests," Sanders said last week.

Frost has gathered $1.5 million in donations, outraising his more experienced opponents and counting Communication Workers of America and Medicare for All PAC among his donors.

While campaigning, Frost has told voters his campaign is "about power-building together."

"It's not just one politician that's going to save us all," he said at a gathering of supporters, as Politico reported. "It's about creating a society where we say, 'Your success is my success and my success is your success.'"

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