While a number of mainstream news outlets are touting the fact that Andrew Gillum is currently ahead of Ron DeSantis in the polls, local newspapers are pointing out that Mr. Gillum faces a number of significant challenges in his quest to become the first Democrat to govern the state since 1999.
Florida may be a purple state with a mix of Republican, Democrat and independent voters; even so, the state went to President Trump in the 2016 presidential elections. Many of those who voted Republican two years ago won’t be inclined to vote for a candidate who is not only a Democrat, but also further left than many other Democrats who have unsuccessfully run for governorship of the state in the past.
Mr. Gillum embraces a number of far-left positions. He recently released a video calling for the immediate impeachment of President Trump. He is in favor of legalizing marijuana in the state, increasing Florida’s corporate tax rate and abolishing ICE. The latter position is fast becoming popular within the Democrat party, as not just far-left progressives but even leading Washington Democrats are calling for the border protection agency to be overhauled or even disbanded.
Abolishing ICE, along with many of Mr. Gillum’s other causes, are not particularly popular with independent voters and even moderate Democrats. His statements are making down-ballot Democrats nervous, especially those who are running in centrist districts, and are thus attempting to appeal to a broader base. Nonetheless, Mr. Gillum and his allies are anticipating a large turnout from African-American voters as well as young Democrats who are enthused about Mr. Gillum’s positions.
National politics are also expected to play an outsized role in what would otherwise be a very localized election. Pundits are predicting the electorate’s feelings regarding President Trump will determine in large part if the state picks a Republican or Democrat governor. While some independents and moderate voters may opt to sit the election out if they decide they dislike both candidates, others may vote Democrat simply out of spite for President Trump. However, the question remains if enough voters in the state really dislike the president enough to go out and vote for someone they don’t particularly like.
As always, the economy will also play a large role. Mr. Gillum’s call for a $15 an hour minimum wage is sure to appeal to at least some minimum wage workers; even so, there is already evidence in some areas that have tried the $15 minimum wage that requiring companies to pay a higher minimum wage is not necessarily in workers’ best interests. Furthermore, small to medium-sized business owners who would be affected by such a move are unlikely to vote for a candidate who embraces it.
The $15 minimum wage call, coupled with Mr. Gillum’s call for a higher corporate tax, led Mr. DeSantis to label Mr. Gillum a socialist. While mainstream media outlets have refuted the label, it is sure to be remembered by the many Floridians of Cuban and Venezuelan descent who don’t hold a high opinion of a political system that tends to bring ruin to once prosperous nations.
Florida’s gubernatorial race is one that is sure to be interesting to watch. Some mainstream media outlets are giving the public the impression that Mr. Gillum is well on his way to winning the race; however, the facts on the ground show otherwise.
While Mr. Gillum is certainly charismatic and well able to enthuse Democrat voters, there is a very real chance that he will not be able to bring enough independent and moderate Democrats over to his side to win the race. DeSantis is also a polarizing figure among those who are looking for a centrist candidate, but he could very well win the race if he can convince enough independents to carry on current Governor Rick Scott’s legacy.
~ Liberty Planet