U.S. Senate candidate Pam Keith met with the University of Miami Young and College Democrats Tuesday night to talk about her candidacy for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s vacant seat in the 2016 election.
Keith began her speech with a list of her accomplishments, including her service in the U.S. Navy and her 20-year long career as a labor lawyer. The candidate also identified herself as the first African-American woman to run for the senate seat in Florida, which she believes is a strong selling point of her campaign. Keith was joined by Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard and Florida State Senate candidate Don Festge. Keith is running for the Democratic nomination for the seat against U.S. Representative for Florida’s ninth congressional district, Alan Grayson, and Patrick Murphy, the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 18th congressional district.
“Those people need some visceral, in their gut, emotion that gets them to the polls, and having a fresh face, a new voice; somebody who not only looks like them but actually puts proposals on the table that’s going to advance the community,” Keith said.
Keith said that while elections today seem more like a boxing match, she chooses to fight with policy rather than pettiness.
“I don’t spend my time bashing my opponents, I talk about issues,” Keith said. “I’m okay with criticism; in fact, I love it.”
In response to how she plans to gain the interest of the youth and new voters, Keith said the responsibility falls in the laps of the candidates.
“I think the problem is not that you have young people who don’t care about politics, I think you have the problem of candidates who don’t care about young people,” Keith said. In fact, it is her unique vantage point on this issue and others that she thinks will distinguish her from her opponents in the upcoming primaries.
When asked about the changes she would make in relation to racism, Keith said that the U.S. court systems are harder on poor, black men. She pointed to recent incidents of police violence against young black men, such as Tamir Rice and Laquan McDonald, both cases in which the police were not criminally charged.
“What we have is one law and two ways that it applies,” Keith said.
To rectify this ongoing predicament, Keith said she plans to hold prosecutors and judges more accountable for their actions, such as creating a database that will record the outcome of judge’s cases and make obvious any negative trends.
Keith also stressed the importance of transparency, something she said she’ll bring to elected office.
“I’m going to turn my office out to the Floridians so they can see what I’m about,” Keith said.
UM student Angelica Duque said she liked the candidate’s message.
“Everything that she said was genuine, well-informed,” Duque said, adding that she liked how the candidate has a Snapchat account and appreciated her efforts to connect with youth.
Dylan Swart, president of the UM Young and College Democrats, also found Keith likable, although he cautioned that his vote was not guaranteed.
“I like her a lot,” Swart said. “I’m not going to decide my vote this early, especially given the fact that I’m going to be at the [Florida College Democrats] convention this weekend.”