It’ll be a Donald Trump–Bernie Sanders surrogate race for Florida Governor. Conservative Republican Ron DeSantis and progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum will faceoff in the November general election. And make no mistake, it’ll be a battle these next 70 days.
Congressman DeSantis’s victory was expected. He dominated Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the polls since early July after receiving an endorsement from President Donald Trump. The only question was the margin of victory and it was significant — 56%-37%.
President Donald Trump congratulated DeSantis on social media.
Such a fantastic win for Ron DeSantis and the people of the Great State of Florida. Ron will be a fantastic Governor. On to November!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
The shocker of the night came in the Democratic Primary as Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a self-described progressive, won in a stunning upset in a crowded 5-person race. Gillum becomes the first African-American candidate to be a party nominee for Florida Governor. Gillum received a late endorsement from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders that boosted his campaign.
Sanders also congratulated his progressive protégé on Twitter.
Congratulations to @AndrewGillum on his victory. Tonight, Floridians joined Andrew in standing up and demanding real change and showed our nation what is possible when we stand together. Let’s make history this November and make Andrew Gillum the next Governor of Florida.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 29, 2018
There’s never been a contest in Florida where the candidates for Governor have such polar opposite viewpoints. It also marks the first time Democrats have nominated a candidate with socialist leanings. When given the opportunity during the last Democratic debate to clarify if he was a a socialist or capitalist, Gillum declined to answer. He instead said “labels mean nothing.”
Every public poll showed Gillum running in the middle of the pack of the 5-person race. Because of that, his record as Tallahassee Mayor went largely unvetted. In the next 60 days, Florida voters will hear a great deal about the FBI’s ongoing investigation into corruption at the city hall led by Gillum. Mayor Gillum says he’s not the subject of the investigation, but that hasn’t been confirmed by federal investigators. Gillum does, however, have a close relationship with the lobbyist at the center of the investigation — Adam Corey. Surprisingly this issue went mostly unmentioned during the Democratic primary.
It’s not a stretch to say — Florida’s never been in this position before. Because each party nominated candidates who are left and right of center, the battle will be for moderate Republicans, conservative Democrats and the millions of no party affiliated voters.
The fight begins now.