Florida win by Gillum shocks political world

Florida win by Gillum shocks political world
September 06
05:00 2018

From Chronicle Wire Reports

Wildly outspent by a billionaire challenger and the daughter of a former Florida governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, 39, shocked the political establishment to win the gubernatorial primary in Florida on Aug. 28.

Gillum, an African-American, defeated former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham 34 percent to 31 percent to win the Democratic nomination. He will now face pro-Trump U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the general election on Nov. 6.

The Associated Press reports that DeSantis wasted no time in stirring controversy.

The man who could become Florida’s first black governor on Sunday, Sept. 2, called on his opponent to refrain from name-calling and to focus on the issues.

Gillum was asked about comments Republican DeSantis made after Tuesday’s primary. DeSantis said voters aren’t going to “monkey this up” by electing Gillum.

“He’s gotten accustomed to calling names. He’s a Harvard-educated man, surely he knows his way around the U.S. vocabulary,” Gillum told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “But he chooses rather to embrace these kinds of dog whistles and bullhorns.”

While saying he wouldn’t engage in name-calling, Gillum also said he wasn’t going to compete in a “pig fight” with DeSantis and President Donald Trump, who endorsed DeSantis and has used Twitter to criticize Gillum.

“I’m not going to follow him and Donald Trump down into the swamp of politics. My grandmother used to say, `When you wrestle with pigs, you both get dirty, but the pig likes it,”’ Gillum said. “I’m not going to be able to compete and win in a pig fight with these guys.”

Also Sunday, DeSantis said in an interview with John Catsimatidis of 970 AM radio in New York that Gillum “will turn Florida into Venezuela.”

“Florida’s a great place to be, to live, to do business, to retire. We need to build off the success that Florida’s enjoyed, and if you have a guy like this – and that being a socialist-style agenda – that’s going to absolutely destroy all the progress that Florida’s made.”

DeSantis and Gillum are competing for the seat held by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who can’t seek re-election due to term limits and is instead challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Lauren Victoria Burke, who writes for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, reports Gillum’s victory caught many political observers by surprise. The 39-year old mayor was polling in fourth place less than a month ago. But recent polls showed an upward movement to second place. Gillum and his supporters completed that upward movement by coming in first on election night.

Gillum’s victory sets up a historic opportunity for there to be three sitting African-American governors in the United States for the first time in history. 

Former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams is the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia after a decisive July 24 primary victory.  Abrams would be the first African-American woman to be a governor from any state should she win. Former NAACP President Ben Jealous is running for governor in Maryland against moderate incumbent Republican Larry Hogan. There are also four black candidates for lieutenant governor running this year for the first time in history.   

Gillum’s progressive victory was cemented in part by a late visit by Sen. Bernie Sanders in support of his candidacy. Though he did not win, the Independent Vermont U.S. senator who ran for president in 2016 focused on bread and butter issues many Americans identified with as he ran against Hillary Clinton.

Sanders’ issue focus included income inequality, money in politics, corporate greed and raising the minimum wage. Despite the Democratic Party’s support of the moderate blue dog style of former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, voters had other ideas and a progressive shift has likely been spurred by Donald Trump’s policies. 

Gillum, a graduate of Florida A&M University, is viewed as the continuation of a progressive surge and a shift away from the establishment also seen in the shocking victory of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez over longtime U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in a primary for his New York House seat. Though her victory is not necessarily a symptom of a widespread trend, it is a signal that a political wave in the opposite direction of Donald Trump is on the horizon in less than 70 days on Nov. 6.

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