Democrats in Florida nominated Andrew Gillum, the current mayor of Tallahassee, to run for Governor. Gillum will be facing Representative Ron DeSantis in a ferocious general election in one of the biggest swing states in the US. DeSantis is supported by President Donald Trump. Gillum, on the other hand, has cast himself as a progressive democrat. If he wins, he will become the first black governor in the history of Florida.
Gillum defeated former congresswoman Gwen Graham narrowly in the primaries. This was a major upset and many analysts saw it as a win for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Both Gillum and DeSantis are young, hard-charging politicians who represent the beating hearts of both their parties at the moment. This promises to be a supercharged campaign that will eventually culminate in a titanic battle.
It looks like GOP voters have backed candidates supported by Trump. In Arizona, for example, primary voters for the GOP went for Representative Martha McSally for the Senate against Jeff Flake, one of Trump’s most outspoken critics. For the governor’s seat, the Democratic Primary voters again chose another progressive over a pragmatist.
Ron DeSantis overwhelmed his closest challenger Adam Putnam. Putnam was at one time regarded as a favorite to take the GOP ticket but after Trump backed DeSantis in June this year, the tables appear to have turned suddenly. DeSantis took 57% of the votes while 37% went for Putnam. But the bigger surprise was Gillum’s win. Backed by Bernie Sanders and financed by George Soros among others, Gillum raced from behind the track to beat Gwen Graham who was considered a favorite to win the ticket. Gwen is the daughter of Bob Graham, a former governor who now serves as a United States Senator.
Nonetheless, Gillum has always relished his underdog status. During a campaign rally in Little Havana in Miami, the former Mayor of Tallahassee said that even though his opponents had spent over $90 million in the campaign against the $4 million spent by his campaign, he’s still confident that people will see right through it. Gillum said that money doesn’t vote and added that he’s very confident that he would emerge victorious.
In the last few weeks of the campaign, an ad aired by Gillum briefly explained his platform. The former Mayor campaigned for universal health care, abolishing the ICE agency, and legalizing marijuana. Gillum has also been a strong advocate of impeaching Trump. According to him, backing progressive candidates could be a game changer for the Democratic Party as this would help attract more independents, millennial, and moderates.
The Florida Gubernatorial race has always been very close. However, over the last two decades, Democrats have failed to win it. In the past two elections, the party lost by a single percentage point. Ron DeSantis will definitely pose a serious change this time around too. The former Navy veteran already has the backing of the President, making him more endearing to GOP nationalists in the state.