Andrew Gillum, Mayor of Tallahassee has become the first African-American nominee for Florida governor, pulling off an upset win over favorite Gwen Graham and two big-spending businessmen in a crowded Democratic primary field. The race remained close, but in the end Gillum defeated Graham.
With 94 percent of the votes counted, Gillum had an unofficial 3 percentage point lead over his closest rival, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. Gillum overwhelmed Graham in Miami-Dade and Broward, the state’s two largest Democratic counties, by more than a 2-to-1 margin, in the highest turnout for a midterm primary election in Florida history.
In November, Gillum will face Jacksonville congressman and Republican Ron DeSantis, who easily defeated state agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam thanks to the backing of President Donald Trump.
According to public polls, Gillum was never in the lead, but was showing signs of gaining momentum in the final weeks. He benefited from being chosen by the progressive wing of the party’s most generous benefactors ― including billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros ― as well as from a barrage of negative ads against Graham by billionaire Jeff Greene.
Gillum, a Miami native who grew up in Richmond Heights and graduated from Florida A&M University, defeated a large, liberal field that included former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King.
Gillum, 39, is married to R. Jai and together they have three children.
As he looks to November, Gillum now has the difficult task to unify the Democratic Party. He must choose a lieutenant governor running mate by Thursday, Sept. 6.
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