MIRAMAR, Florida — Wayne Messam is Miramar's first black mayor. In fact, he was re-elected to a second term this week, winning 86 percent of the vote.
But now he's considering entering a decidedly bigger race: for president of the United States. On Monday, 44-year-old Messam established an exploratory committee and is giving himself until the end of March to decide if he has the support from potential donors to officially throw his hat in the ring.
Messam is a first-generation American and a former Florida State University wide receiver who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Messam’s team sees a pathway for a young, black progressive Southerner after the surprising midterm performances of candidates like Andrew Gillum in Florida and Stacey Abrams in Georgia. South Carolina is the third stop on the Democratic nomination calendar, and Messam supporters say a strong early showing could make him a contender there.
But there’s not much time. The first Democratic primary debate is in June, and to get a spot on the stage, candidates need to create a grassroots fundraising army or start showing results in national polls. Messam starts both efforts from basically zero. But he says he’s making this run for all the right reasons.
"I'm not truly convinced solutions are coming out of Washington," Messam told VICE News. "Mayors are known to be problem-solvers. Mayors are known for being closer to the people."
This segment originally aired on March 13, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.