In a shocking political upset yesterday in the Florida primary, a young African American mayor named Andrew Gillum beat a crowded field of wealthy establishment figures to win the Democratic nomination for governor of the Sunshine State.
His opponent will be Congressman Ron DeSantis who won the GOP primary after advertising his closeness to Donald Trump and then being strongly endorsed by the president.
Gillum has also won endorsements, but from the other side of the political spectrum. His upset victory came about because of the enthusiastic involvement of such liberal groups as Indivisible and the Bernie Sanders-affiliated group called OurRevolution.
Gillum was the only Democratic Party candidate to embrace such liberal ideas as “Medicare for All” and his positions are very closely aligned with those of Sanders.
Democrats hope that Gillum’s victory will inspire the so-called Obama Coalition which includes such groups as minority voters, single women and young voters. If he has any chance of victory it will depend on massive turnout from these groups.
Republicans claim that Gillum’s liberal positions will lead to an easy victory for DeSantis in November.
In fact the president himself weighed in on Twitter this morning, not only congratulating DeSantis and taking credit for his victory, but also attacking Gillum.
“Not only did Congressman Ron DeSantis easily win the Republican Primary, but his opponent in November is his biggest dream….a failed Socialist Mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city. This is not what Florida wants or needs!”
Not only did Congressman Ron DeSantis easily win the Republican Primary, but his opponent in November is his biggest dream….a failed Socialist Mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city. This is not what Florida wants or needs!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
Clearly Trump has decided to play a role in this year’s Florida governor’s race.
And clearly Gillum has decided to come out swinging whenever he is attacked by the president.
After Trump’s tweet, Gillum responded quickly, writing:
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) August 29, 2018
Gillum also retweeted a message posted by Bernie Sanders, making clear that this election will be a contest between the progressive ideas of Sanders and the right-wing views of Trumpism.
“Congratulations to @AndrewGillum on his victory. Tonight, Floridians joined Andrew in standing up and demanding real change and showed our nation what is possible when we stand together. Let’s make history this November and make Andrew Gillum the next Governor of Florida.”
Congratulations to @AndrewGillum on his victory. Tonight, Floridians joined Andrew in standing up and demanding real change and showed our nation what is possible when we stand together. Let's make history this November and make Andrew Gillum the next Governor of Florida.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 29, 2018
Gillum appeared this morning on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” where co-host Joe Scarborough had some interesting insights into the upcoming governor races in both Florida and Georgia.
In Georgia, another African American, Stacey Abrams, is facing the pro-Trump GOP candidate Brian Kemp, who, like DeSantis, has been strongly endorsed by the president.
“This is cliff diving for both Democrats and Republicans,” Scarborough said. “We could have the first two black governors elected in Deep South states.”
DeSantis has tied himself very closely to Trump and made his campaign explicitly pro-Trump, including a TV ad that shows him reading “The Art of the Deal” to his children and talking to them about building a wall out of toy blocks. Gillum has embraced every liberal and progressive idea and program available, which has endeared him to young people, minority voters, and Sanders supporters.
“You could have a massive victory for Donald Trump in both of those states,” Scarborough said, “where, again, two people that totally bought in to the Trump personality cult, address dressing their babies in ‘Make America Great Again’ T-shirts and bragging about it, and whispering ‘build that wall’ to their young infants. I mean, that’s about as stark a contrast as you can get.”
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.