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Democrats, particularly Bernie Sanders’ socialist supporters, have a lot to cheer about following Andrew Gillum’s unanticipated victory in Florida’s gubernatorial primary last night. With a strong plurality of 34%, Gillum is going to take his best shot at becoming Florida’s first African American governor.
Now that the dust has settled a bit from the surprise win, challenges are already starting to come to light. Gillum goes into the general election season with a wide range of problems the Republicans can exploit over the next few months. It’s as if the opposition research has already been done for Republican Ron DeSantis’ team.
Politico notes a few:
Two political strategists said the FBI investigation is just some of the weaponry DeSantis will use against Gillum, and his chances of survival depend on how he fights back. Fort Lauderdale pollster and strategist Tony Fabrizio, a Republican, said Gillum should also expect heat for reports of Tallahassee’s high crime ranking and city overspending.
“Either of those three things could be a knockout punch for him,” Fabrizio said. “If I were them, I would ask how you go after DeSantis.”
Tallahassee pollster and Democrat strategist Steve Vancore said Gillum’s primary opponents did not use the FBI investigation, but choosing to ignore it could easily leave a powder keg left to explode.
Ironically, the very thing that propelled DeSantis to victory may be the best ammunition Gillum can use against him: President Trump’s endorsement. As DeSantis tries to connect corruption investigations and poor decisions to Gillum, so too will Gillum try to connect DeSantis to Trump.
If I had the DeSantis campaign’s ear, I’d tell them they need to play a very conservative strategy and keep the real ammunition until two weeks before the election. As has been demonstrated time and again in this digitally connect age, opinions can be swayed very quickly. It’s better to build momentum slowly and then hit the turbo boost at the end rather than the traditional strategy of trickling scandals over time.
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