Tomorrow, as the sun rises, Bishop Victor Curry of New Birth Baptist Church will wake up and race to the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown. At 7 a.m., he will help lead south Florida’s first early-vote rally. As soon as he can, he will hotfoot it to the South Dade Regional Library, 30-odd minutes away, for the day’s second early-vote rally. He will find some way to flee in time to make the start of the EBA Higher Education Awareness and Dropout Prevention Initiative in Miami Gardens, the heart of black south Florida, and take the stage next to Rev. Al Sharpton. Then back on the road, north to Broward County.
The plan, coordinated by at least 150 black pastors, is called “Operation Lemonade.” On Wednesday, I visited New Birth, parking near the van that promotes his radio talk show, and finding Curry’s office in the sprawling, 10-year-old gated complex. Outside the chapel, there’s a signed message from President Obama congratulating Curry on the church’s anniversary. Inside Curry’s office, there are multiple pictures commemorating his meetings with Sharpton and with Bill Clinton, next to his lifetime membership plaque from the NAACP, and a picture from election night 2008. That year, churches got two whole weeks to turn out the early vote. This year they get one.
“When the Republicans in the state passed the new voting laws, we discovered that they took away that Sunday right before the election,” says Curry. “What we decided to do was view that as them giving us a lemon. We can be sour, we can moan and groan about it, or we can do something. We can make lemonade. The first thrust is this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and then we’re going to encourage people the entire next week.”
Democrats are proud to say it: If they win this election, it’ll be because a superior ground game turned out their base and overcame a Mitt Romney comeback. In Florida, they have twice as many campaign offices as Romney-Ryan. “With absentee ballot requests, usually the Republicans have a pretty significant advantage on us,” says Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairwoman who represents a liberal slice of the Miami sprawl. “We’ve cut the advantage by 85 percent.” This is true.