Need to Know: After Shocking Primary, Florida Governor's Race Will Pit Trumpism Against Far Left
Calling for legal cannabis and the end of ICE, Florida’s first black gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum will face hardline conservative Ron DeSantis in November.
Published on August 29, 2018

Photo via Andrew Gillum

Florida Democrats turned out in numbers for Tuesday’s primary elections, advancing Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum to November’s highly anticipated race for governor. As the Sunshine State’s first African American gubernatorial nominee, Gillum has campaigned in favor of cannabis legalization and disbanding Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) among other progressive goals. In a virtual microcosm of America’s polarized political climate, Gillum will face off against Ron DeSantis, an ardent conservative endorsed by President Trump.

According to the New York Times, Gillum’s victory has been touted as the most significant win for far-left Democrats since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a place in New York’s midterm congressional race earlier this summer. Defeating favored establishment Democrat Gwen Graham with only $4 million in campaign funding and grassroots support, Gillum was finishing fourth in primary polls as recently as last month.

Across the country, this year’s midterm primaries have repeatedly shown the influence of Trump’s White House, with Democratic voters throwing support behind socialist-leaning progressives and Republicans abandoning moderation in favor of conservative firebrands and presidential endorsements, setting up increasingly contentious November ballots.

“We’re going to make clear to the rest of the world that the dark days that we’ve been under, coming out of Washington, that the derision and the division that has been coming out of our White House, that right here in the state of Florida we are going to remind this nation of what is truly the American way,” Gillum said in his victory speech Tuesday night.

On the other side of the aisle, Republican challenger Ron DeSantis has been fully backed by Trump, and released a campaign ad featuring his toddler daughter building a border wall out of toy blocks. 

“Ron is strong on Borders, tough on Crime & big on Cutting Taxes - Loves our Military & our Vets,” President Trump tweeted in June. “He will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement!”

As the state’s Republican primary heated up over the past month, DeSantis challengers pried at the congressman’s Trump connections, but were ultimately unsuccessful in convincing voters to abandon him.

“Florida’s not picking an apprentice; we’re picking a governor,” said one-time Republican gubernatorial favorite Adam Putnam earlier this summer.

In Arizona and Oklahoma, where voters also decided November’s midterm nominations on Tuesday, elections split similarly down party lines. In the Copper State, progressive David Garcia secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and will face off against incumbent David Ducey in an attempt to turn the typically red Southwestern hub blue.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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