In Florida, the stage is set for a hotly-contested gubernatorial race between a Trump acolyte, Ron DeSantis, and an outspoken progressive, Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor.
But history is in the making for only one of them as the Florida Democrat could be the state's first African-American governor.
Also, Gillum's victory in the Democratic primary is nothing less than stunning.
He was an underdog from the very beginning of his campaign, running against four wealthy Democratic challengers, namely Philip Levine a super rich businessman and Miami Beach mayor, Jeff Greene, a Palm Beach real-estate investor, and Chris King, an entrepreneur based in Orlando and Gwen Graham, who is a multi-millionaire.
Gillum spent, $6.7 million, on his campaign -- far less than the amount spent by his challengers:
Florida Democratic primary spending:— Alex Leary (@learyreports) August 29, 2018
Philip Levine: $37.7 million
Jeff Greene: $34.7 million
Gwen Graham: $16.3 million
Chris King: $7.8 million
Andrew Gillum: $6.6 million
Candidate only; Gillum had decent outside support. But still ...
He also had help. MyPalmBeachPost.com reports:
"... he benefited from more than $1 million in spending by an outside group called the Collective Super PAC and from a combined expenditure of $3.5 million late in the race from People For the American Way and other liberal groups. Steyer and Soros also kicked in a combined $800,000 during the final weeks to Gillum’s Forward Florida Committee."
For the most part of the primary race, Gillum had dismally low polling numbers. The only silver lining was that low polling made him almost immune to any attacks from his rivals -- and that might have been a key factor in his sudden ascent.
Slowly, but steadily, he started gaining ground as Floridians found a champion of lower and middle-class in Gillum, the son of a bus driver and construction worker, who could also help attract younger and minority voters.
The final boost, however, came on Aug. 1 when Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed him.
“As governor, Andrew Gillum will work to provide health care for all through a Medicare-for-All program, raise the minimum wage to a living wage, invest in sustainable energy, improve education, make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and be welcoming to immigrants,” said Sanders.
Following his primary win, Gillum thanked the Vermont senator in a tweet:
Gillum isn't entirely free from controversy, though.
The F.B.I. is currently investigating Tallahassee City Hall for alleged corruption, from which Gillum has distanced himself.
“I have zero tolerance for corruption and inappropriate or illegal behavior, and the last several months there appears to be an FBI investigation into something we thought was writ large in our government, the CRA, which I am chair of," said during a June Washington Post podcast.
While Gillum was fortunate enough to have escaped attacks over the scandal during the primary, it is expected the road might not be as smooth in the general election when he will face off DeSantis, who won his race by mirroring Trump both in rhetoric and policies.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Letitia Stein