Despite having less money to spend, lower name-recognition going in, and a long-running FBI investigation into corruption at Tallahassee’s City Hall, Mayor Andrew Gillum won the Democratic nomination for Florida governor. At the time the race was called by the Associated Press, Gillum held a two-point lead over favorite Gwen Graham.
At 39, Gillum was by far the youngest candidate in the crowded field, but the most experienced in public office. He was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission at age 23 and became mayor four years ago.
He won despite a cloud of uncertainty hovering over city hall as the result of a long-running FBI investigation of possible corruption.
Two weeks before the race, Gillum was far behind in the polls with votes split among a see of Democratic hopefuls. But a blitz across the state and high-profile endorsements, including socialist Senator Bernie Sanders’, propelled Gillum to victory.
He will face Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis who soundly won his nomination behind the endorsement of President Trump:
Say what you will about President Trump’s leadership or personal foibles. What can’t be denied is that his endorsement still carries clout with Republican voters, a fact reiterated by a resounding victory in the Florida gubernatorial primary Tuesday night. Congressman Ron DeSantis is projected to defeat Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam by double digits.
This will be the most important gubernatorial race of the 2018 election. On one hand, you have a Trump-endorsed Tea Party conservative running in a race the President barely won in 2016. On the other hand, you have potential history in the making as Gillum tries to be the state’s first African American governor.