Wayne Messam, 44, mayor of Miramar, Florida, is launching a committee to explore a run for the office of President of the United States. Acknowledging that the effort is longshot, Messam, who is little known outside his South Florida region, but is unafraid of the challenges facing him. The Democrat has governed a city of 140,000 people since 2015. He currently has just a small political operation and is entering a very large field of candidates, several of whom have much bigger national profiles and fundraising options.
A first-generation Jamaican-American and son of Jamaican immigrants, Messam’s father worked as a sugar cane cutter, and his mother was employed as a cook for the men in the cane fields. He spent his childhood in South Bay, Florida, after the family emigrated and played football at Florida State University, winning a national championship in 1993. Miramar’s first black mayor, he currently owns a construction business.
Messam views his longshot status as a chance to show the American people another leadership option. He believes Americans view mayors differently from and more favorably than candidates from other walks of life, He is hoping that voters who don’t know him yet will “pause” and listen to his story and message long enough to understand that he has come from “humble beginnings” to now be “living the American dream,” which he believes is slipping away from most people in the US. “Americans are not getting their needs met,” Messam says.
Mayor Messam is advised by a small team that helps him chart his 2020 presidential bid. Some members of his team also aided the mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum, in his run for Florida governor in 2018. According to his advisers, Mayor Messam plans to compete in every state and try to make weekly visits to South Carolina due to the state’s large black population.
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