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Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam (left) at a film festival. Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams/Film Magic via Getty Images

You've probably never heard of Wayne Messam, mayor of Miramar, Florida. But that's not stopping him from forming an exploratory committee to run for president.

Details: Messam was just re-elected as mayor last night, a victory that is one factor in his decision to move toward a presidential bid, according to an advisor for his campaign. His team often refers to Messam as a "dark horse" candidate, but they're banking on a path to victory through appealing to black voters in southern states like Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and both of the Carolinas.

Why it matters: The 2020 presidential field is wide open for Democrats, and in some ways this could be the most pure nominating contest we've had since there's no clear frontrunner or pre-ordained "establishment" candidate sure to become the nominee.

But that doesn't mean it'd be easy for Messam to rise to the top, especially with so many well-known senators already in the race.

  • Interestingly, his team — which includes some folks who helped Andrew Gillum's gubernatorial campaign, per Buzzfeed — is using FiveThirtyEight's model to predict their success and map a potential path to victory.
  • His campaign argues that he could appeal to all 5 categories of potential constituencies: party loyalists, the Left, millennials and friends, black voters and Hispanic voters, which FiveThirtyEight writes sometimes includes Asian voters.

What they're saying: “Washington is not working for the American people, and these big issues need fresh eyes and bold ideas from someone closer to the people, so our voice can be heard," Messam said in a statement to Axios. "I do not believe that the best ideas come from Washington."

While his policy details as a potential presidential candidate haven't been fleshed out, a campaign advisor pointed me to his record on:

  • Gun safety (he sued the state of Florida over gun violence and pushed for gun-free zones).
  • Immigration (he proposed making Miramar a "safe zone" for undocumented immigrants).
  • The environment (he joined other mayors in vowing to uphold the pillars of the Paris Climate Accord).
  • The economy (he owns a construction firm).

Go deeper: Wayne Messam: Everything you need to know about the candidate

Go deeper

Omicron cases confirmed in 3 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The third confirmed U.S. case of the newly-discovered Omicron variant was detected in a Colorado resident, state health officials said Thursday.

The latest: In addition to Colorado, the variant has been confirmed in California, and Minnesota.

Early winter heat shatters records in U.S., Canada

Temperature departures from average on Dec. 2, 2021, as depicted by the GFS computer model. (Weatherbell.com)

A widespread and intense heatwave is roasting large portions of the U.S. and Canada, shattering daily and monthly temperature records.

Why it matters: Winter is the fastest-warming season across the U.S., and the lingering warmth is shortening the snow season in places like Colorado and Montana, where mountain snowpack is a critical source of water during the summer months.

5 hours ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.