Update: Democrat Andrew Gillum has lost to Republican Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor’s race.
Democrat Andrew Gillum has turned the Florida governor’s race into one of the most hotly anticipated contests of 2018, as he runs against Republican Ron DeSantis.
Gillum came from behind for a surprise win in the August primary, beating presumed frontrunner and establishment pick Gwen Graham (a former member of Congress), and two other candidates. Gillum is young, black, and unabashedly progressive — and he has a single-digit lead over DeSantis in recent polls. Vox has live results, powered by Decision Desk, below.
It would be a seismic shift in Florida politics if Gillum wins; Republicans have controlled the governor’s mansion for the last 20 years. There are hugely important and policy implications here as well, as Gillum is a candidate who has openly embraced progressive issues including Medicare-for-all and a $15 minimum wage. If elected, Gillum will likely try to expand Medicaid in the state, though he would also need a willing partner in Florida’s state legislature, which has opposed the effort so far.
The governor’s race has become somewhat of a referendum on President Donald Trump, who DeSantis has modeled himself on from the beginning of his campaign. The president won the state by a single point in 2016. And race has also become a flashpoint during the campaign, as Gillum has accused both Trump and DeSantis of race-baiting throughout the cycle.
Trump recently called Gillum a “thief” in connection to an FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee city government, and DeSantis once urged voters to not “monkey this up” by casting a ballot for Gillum. Just this weekend, Trump’s Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described the stakes of the governor’s race as “cotton-pickin’ important” while he stumped for DeSantis. That has infuriated many of Florida’s black voters.
As he did in the primary, Gillum appears to be energizing Florida’s young and minority voters. The enthusiasm for the Tallahassee mayor is palpable, and some believe it could boost the entire Democratic ticket.
“He is quite possibly going to increase turnout among Democratic constituencies that traditionally do not turn out,” Mac Stipanovich, a lobbyist and longtime Republican strategist in Florida, told Vox recently. “At the end of the day, it’s the way it’s always going to be, it’s going to come down to turnout.
Who is Andrew Gillum?
Gillum, 39, is the current mayor of Tallahassee. He stunned the state and the nation this summer when he came from behind among four candidates to win the August primary for governor.
His showing in the primary was history-making; Gillum is the first African-American gubernatorial nominee in the state. His primary win was a watershed moment for progressive groups, but also for black Democrats in the South; next door, Stacey Abrams is the Democratic nominee in Georgia. If Abrams wins, she could be the nation’s first African-American woman governor.
Gillum is originally from Miami. One of seven children, the nominee’s mother was a city bus driver, and his father was a construction worker. He spoke about his family’s humble beginnings in a March campaign ad.
He attended Florida A&M University, a historically black institution, and entered Tallahassee politics at a young age. When he was 23, he was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission with just $6,000 in campaign cash, but a strong, locally organized ground game, according to a profile by BuzzFeed’s Darren Sands.
Even with questions about an FBI probe into corruption in Tallahassee’s government, Gillum has long maintained he was not involved, and not a focus of the investigation.