After running a campaign significantly to the left of his nearest Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum sailed to a primary victory Tuesday in Florida’s gubernatorial race.
Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, a moderate Democrat more reflective of the state’s choices in previous primaries, lost the race despite the support of many party leaders.
Gillum, on the other hand, had the backing of influential leftists including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Among the positions Gillum has voiced on the campaign trail are support for stricter gun laws, a $15-per-hour minimum wage and universal Medicare.
He also received a nod, along with $1 million in total campaign donations, from NextGen America.
The group is led by billionaire Tom Steyer, who is also funding an independent campaign to impeach President Donald Trump.
Largely on the strength of impressive turnout in heavily Democratic counties Broward and Miami-Dade, Gillum overcame an early deficit in the race to win by about three percentage points.
At an election-night gathering in Tallahassee’s Hotel Duval, the mayor said he was “overwhelmed” by the show of support he received at the polls.
“I want you to know that this thing is not about me,” he said. “This race is about every single one of us. Those of us inside this room. Those outside of this room. Those who voted for me. Those who didn’t vote at all. And those who didn’t vote for me because they are Republicans. But I want to be their governor, too.”
Meanwhile, Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis celebrated his primary victory with a party in Orlando.
Now preparing for a general-election battle with the mayor, DeSantis told supporters Tuesday night that he believes Gillum is “way, way too liberal for the state of Florida.”
Trump echoed that sentiment in a tweet the following morning in which he described Gillum as a “failed Socialist” whose policies would be dangerous for the state.
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
“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 others problems to flourish in his city,” Trump wrote. “This is not what Florida wants or needs!”
Led by Graham when she conceded the race, Democrats are now rallying behind the man who could become the state’s first black governor.
“Andrew, go out and win this damned thing,” Graham said in her speech Tuesday night.
After congratulating him on the hard-fought victory, she said “we must all put our efforts behind Andrew Gillum” and “make sure that we do everything we can to have him elected governor on Nov. 6.”
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