Andrew Gillum scored a surprise victory Tuesday night, winning the Democratic nomination for Florida governor.
The Tallahassee mayor had consistently placed fourth out of five in public polls and was heavily outspent by his millionaire opponents. But Tuesday night, armed with an endorsement from Bernie Sanders and financing from Tom Steyer and George Soros, Gillum beat out the presumed frontrunner Gwen Graham, a former member of Congress and the daughter of former governor and senator Bob Graham, 34% to 31%.
Gillum’s win marks the first African-American gubernatorial nominee in Florida. With Stacey Abrams’ nomination in Georgia, there are now parallel governors’ races taking place in the neighboring states, pitting a progressive African-American against a Trump-backed nationalist.
Gillum, one of seven, is originally from Miami. He got his start in city politics at 23, becoming the youngest person ever elected to the Tallahassee City Commission. By 2014, when he was 35, Gillum won the mayor’s seat in Tallahassee, taking 76% of the vote in a three-way race. In 2016, he was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Despite an endorsement from Sanders, Gillum denies the far-left label, noting that not only was he a supporter for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, but also that he would be a governor “not just for some, but for all.” Nevertheless, he represents a new type of Democratic candidate in this purple state—diverging from the moderate Democrats who have lost the past two governor’s elections.
Gillum ran on a platform of universal health care, legalizing marijuana, and abolishing ICE. He also campaigned on repealing the state’s Stand Your Ground law and raising the minimum wage. He will face Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis in November. Should Gillum win, he would be the first Democrat in the Florida governor’s mansion in two decades.
President Trump commented on the Florida primary Wednesday morning, praising DeSantis’ win and calling Gillum a “failed Socialist Mayor.”