With Florida Governor’s Race Tied, Donors and Hillary Rally to Democrat’s Rescue
The Florida governor’s race went from what looked like a 9-percentage-point cakewalk for Democrat Andrew Gillum, in late September, to a virtual tie with Gillum only leading Republican Ron DeSantis by 3.7 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics polling average the first week of October.
The biggest names in the Democratic Party’s donor class are sending money to Gillum’s campaign. Hollywood liberals are sending both cash and endorsements to the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. And Hillary Clinton, who nearly chose Gillum as her running mate in 2016, plans to campaign at his side later this month.
Gillum’s grateful; who wouldn’t be? But one Florida political columnist warns Gillum to never look a gift horse in the mouth, unless that horse is named Hillary.
Tallahassee Mayor Gillum surprised Florida Democrats with what was considered to be a significant primary upset victory when he defeated favorite Gwen Graham. If he wins in November, Gillum would be the first black governor in Florida’s history.
DeSantis’ primary win was just as much of a shock to his fellow Republicans and set up a classic showdown between a progressive Democrat and one of the 30 most conservative Republicans in the U.S. House before his September resignation to focus on his campaign.
GOP activist Mac Stipanovich described the DeSantis-Gillum gubernatorial election as the “most nationalized race for Florida governor we’ve ever seen.”
He said the race for governor was an “echo” of the 2016 presidential election, except that it is Democrat Gillum who is sounding like Donald Trump — taking the “most extreme positions, and generating passion and enthusiasm” – while Republican DeSantis plays the role of Hillary Clinton, seeking to extend a Republican dynasty in Florida.
“It’s a referendum on what’s happening nationally,” Stipanovich said to WMFE.
It certainly has been a wild race beginning the day after both candidates won their parties’ nominations, when DeSantis warned Florida voters not to “monkey this up,” which Democrats took as a racial slur or a racist dog whistle. Gillum, an African-American, said it sounded to him like “a bullhorn.”
A month later, a Gillum staffer was fired for calling for Trump’s execution on Twitter and wearing a shirt that called pro-Trump states “Dumbf—kistan.”
Also, the DeSantis campaign was accused in September of texting Jewish voters, warning them that Gillum could be anti-Semitic.
“Newly unearthed comments made by Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum’s running mate raise serious concerns about Gillum’s ever-mounting ties to blatant anti-Semitism,” the text messages read.
The DeSantis campaign never denied sending the texts out. Instead, DeSantis communications director Stephen Lawson said, “The Gillum campaign should spend more time addressing why they said them and less time about how voters are finding out about them.”