Florida could elect its first Democratic governor in almost 20 years, in no small part because Andrew Gillum is running against everything Trump stands for.
Florida has not had a Democratic governor in over 19 years. But Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is very close to breaking that streak, thanks in large part to his decision to stand against Trump’s toxicity.
Gillum has promoted the ideas of unity and equality in his campaign — which puts him directly at odds with Trump, who built his political career on using racism and fear to divide Americans.
“We’re tired of the brand of politics we’ve seen – the brand of hatred and division and lies,” Gillum said in a tweet. Accompanying that message was a video celebrating Florida’s diversity.
On policy, Gillum is also running strongly against Trumpism.
Gillum supports ideas like Medicare for All and increased teacher pay. Trump, on the other hand, has led GOP efforts to repeal health care reform (which DeSantis voted for repeal multiple times), and has attacked teachers through his harmful education policies.
Gillum’s message is a stark contrast with that of his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, who was hand-picked by Trump during the primary and who has proudly positioned himself as a miniature version of Trump.
Trump seems to be aware that DeSantis is a stand-in for his presidency, and that both DeSantis and Trumpism are under serious threat. So it’s no surprise that Trump recently visited Florida twice in one week to try to rally his supporters behind DeSantis and other GOP candidates like Rick Scott, the Republican nominee for Senate.
DeSantis has been especially Trump-like on the issue of race. During his first appearance after winning the GOP primary, DeSantis infamously told Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum, who is black.
Other disturbing revelations about DeSantis suggested that this offensive remark wasn’t a fluke. DeSantis has repeatedly spoken at racist conferences, moderated a racist Facebook group, and even wrote a book excusing slavery.
When DeSantis was confronted by a debate moderator over his associations with known racists, DeSantis flew into a rage and indignantly claimed that he couldn’t be held responsible for knowing about their racism.
But as Gillum deftly noted, all you really need to know about DeSantis and race is that “the racists believe he’s a racist.”
Trump has also tried to use racist stereotypes and dog whistles against Gillum. He once baselessly called Gillum a “thief,” a word he hadn’t used against other opponents before. It’s common for Republicans, and Trump especially, to invoke crime when attacking people of color in an attempt to stoke racist fears.
Gillum brushed off the attack by saying, “If I’m stealing anything, it’s hearts and minds.”
DeSantis has tried to use the same dog whistle. He once claimed that Gillum’s city of Tallahassee is “the most crime-ridden city in the entire state of Florida.”
But that’s a lie. And as New York magazine explained, “Gillum’s blackness and that of his city — at 35 percent, the blackest of Florida’s ten largest — has everything to do with why DeSantis would gamble on such a verifiably false accusation.”
Gillum has been ahead of DeSantis in the gubernatorial campaign ever since the primaries concluded. Gillum has real momentum, plus the backing of major figures like President Barack Obama.
DeSantis is one of the most toxic Trump acolytes running this cycle. So far, though, Gillum has bested him in debates and in overall support.
Gillum’s campaign has fought back hard against the politics of division and hatred — and he needs strong turnout from Florida voters on Tuesday to help him win that fight.