Gillum makes history with Democratic nomination for governor

Tallahassee mayor becomes first black nominee in Florida history

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Andrew Gillum has made history.

Gillum won the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday night, becoming the first black nominee in Florida history.

The Tallahassee mayor was neck and neck with former congresswoman Gwen Graham for much of the night before pulling ahead with enough votes to secure the nomination.

President Donald Trump, who has voiced his support for Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor's race, said Wednesday morning on Twitter that Gillum is DeSantis' "biggest dream" for an opponent.  

Gillum replied to Trump a short time later, telling him, "What our state and country needs is decency, hope and leadership."

Gillum seemed to gain momentum in the final weeks of the campaign, touring the state by bus and winning over voters in a crowded field that included Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene and Orlando-area businessman Chris King.

Raised in Miami-Dade County's Richmond Heights community, Gillum found favor with voters in a crowded field that included the daughter of former Gov. Bob Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene and Orlando-area businessman Chris King.

Gillum may have also benefited from the divisive shots his opponents fired at each other, saturating voters with negative campaign advertisements that filled the airwaves.

Greene, who canceled his planned watch party on Palm Beach, admitted the smear campaign launched by Levine damaged his reputation -- namely, the commercial showing Greene referring to President Donald Trump as "a great guy."

"When I'd go speak at Democratic Party group events, you know, I'd walk in the room, I could just see the way people looked at me after that commercial," Greene told Local 10 News reporter Amy Viteri in a telephone interview. "At first they were excited about me, I was getting big applause, and I could see that he really had done an enormous amount of damage to my standing in the Democratic Party."

Greene and Levine both released statements supporting Gillum headed into the November election. Graham was gracious in defeat, pledging her support for Gillum.

Joined by his wife and children at a victory party in Tallahassee, Gillum thanked supporters who "took hold of our vision and our mission and our plan for a state that makes room for all of us, not just the well-heeled and the well-connected, but all of us."

Now the task will be trying to win the general election and become the first Democrat in the governor's mansion in 20 years.

 

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