In an Upset, Andrew Gillum Wins Democratic Nomination for Florida Governor's Race

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, left, and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum hold hands during a campaign rally Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, in Tampa, Fla.
Photo: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

In a surprising win, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum earned the Democratic nomination in Florida’s primary race for governor Tuesday night, putting him in a position to become the state’s first black governor if he wins in November, the Washington Post reports.

Gwen Graham, a former member of Congress who was the Democratic frontrunner and led in the polls for most of the race, came in second. Gillum will face the Donald Trump-endorsed GOP nominee Rep. Ron DeSantis in the general election.


Gillum, 39, ran on a progressive platform that includes Medicare for all, paying teachers $50,000 per year, and abolishing ICE. He trailed in the polls for most of the race, but made a significant surge over the last few weeks. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement two weeks ago and infusion of cash and mobilization support also proved crucial.

Though polling data hasn’t come in yet, Gillum may have mobilized new black voters to the polls. He certainly put in the work to get them there, according to Darren Sands’ reporting at BuzzFeed.

During the general election, Gillum will be running against DeDantis, but he will also be campaigning against Trump and the bigotry his endorsement represents. Trump won Florida in 2016 and is polling fairly well there now. To win, Gillum will have to convince Floridians that the state cannot afford to host a Trump-like politician in the governor’s mansion.

If he is able to pull off a win in November, Gillum will have given the Democrats a blueprint to victory for 2020. We’ll see.

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About the author

Terrell Jermaine Starr

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

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