Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign success is indicative of a wave of discontent Floridians have with Republicans.
The Tallahassee mayor faces Trump-backed Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis and is a member of an ever-growing class of progressives aligning themselves with the agenda of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Gillum won the Democratic primary by only a few points against Gwen Graham. That election wasn’t supposed to be easy for Gillum, because Graham’s father was once the state’s governor and a U.S. senator. She took on the role of centrist to appeal to voters, but in the final weeks leading up to the primaries, her lead started to fade and Gillum was able to inch to a three-point victory.
His progressive campaign has allowed him to amass support from the largest left-wing donors, including Democratic financier George Soros. Between Soros and his sons, Gillum has raised $1.3 million alone, according to Politico.
Born in Miami, his mother drove a school bus and his father was a construction worker. He’s one of seven children and the first in his family to graduate high school and go to college, according to the Sun Sentinel. He was the youngest person elected to the Tallahassee City Commission at 23.
Gillum boasts economic development and a focus on the underrepresented worker. Under his mayorship, Tallahassee was selected for Obama’s TechHire program, which provides resources to underrepresented workers in the tech field, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
His campaign has run into some trouble with the FBI, after agents subpoenaed “thousands of pages of documents from key players in city government,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. Gillum’s accepted a ticket to the award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton” in New York from an undercover FBI agent who was investigating corruption in Tallahassee.
Gillum in the governor’s debate said that although he is not the direct subject of the investigation, he has “zero tolerance for corruption.” He also said that he should have asked more questions about where the ticket came from before accepting it.
“I’m running for governor, in the state of Florida we got a lot of issues, in fact we have 99 issues and ‘Hamilton’ ain’t one of them,” Gillum said.
The race has gotten increasingly testy between DeSantis and Gillum. DeSantis recently said at a rally that Gillum would appoint “Soros-backed activists” to statehouse positions if he were appointed. He has also urged FOX News viewers not to “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum in November.
Gillum has also been a target of racist robocalls paid for by a white nationalist group from Idaho.
“Well, hello there. I is the negro Andrew Gillum and I’ll be askin’ you to make me governor of this here state of Florida,” the call says.
DeSantis denounced the calls and said he didn’t know who was making them, although the group made similar robocalls mocking California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Gillum hasn’t shied away from President Trump’s attacks toward him online. On Monday, Trump posted a tweet calling for the support of DeSantis, in which he called Gillum a “thief,” likely in regards to the FBI investigation.
In Florida there is a choice between a Harvard/Yale educated man named @RonDeSantisFL who has been a great Congressman and will be a great Governor – and a Dem who is a thief and who is Mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2018
Gillum fired back the same way he did when Trump attacked him in August, by telling him to tag him directly in the tweet and urging Floridians to vote.
Despite the cloud of a federal investigation over his head and the unlikely odds of his victory over Graham in the primaries, ABC News partner FiveThirtyEight forecasts Gillum with a three in four chance of taking the governor’s mansion.