DeSantis edges Gillum, elected Florida governor

Tallahassee mayor concedes race as Republican remains in governor's mansion

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It's been 20 years since a Democrat served as Florida governor. It will be at least four more. 

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis defeated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in a tightly contested election Tuesday night, following in the footsteps of three other Republicans before him.

Gillum conceded the race just before 11 p.m., saying he called to congratulate DeSantis on becoming the next governor.

"I sincerely regret that I couldn't bring it home for you," Gillum told supporters Tuesday night in Tallahassee, referencing his campaign mantra.

But he promised not to go away.

"I can guarantee you this: We're not going anywhere," Gillum said.

DeSantis thanked supporters in Orlando, calling it the "greatest professional honor" of his life.

"Not bad for a kid who started out making $6 an hour," DeSantis said in his victory speech.

DeSantis was endorsed by President Donald Trump, who heaped high-praise on the conservative congressman.

A former U.S. Naval officer and federal prosecutor, DeSantis was elected to the U.S. House in 2012 and quickly ascended up the GOP political ladder, announcing his intention to run for Senate after Marco Rubio sought the presidency in 2016. When Rubio decided to seek re-election, DeSantis withdrew from the race and instead turned his attention to the governor's mansion, resigning his seat to focus on his campaign.

DeSantis promised to keep the state's taxes low and protect taxpayer dollars. He also promised to protect Florida's environment by stopping red tides and restoring the Everglades.

The Yale and Harvard-educated attorney praised the hard work of volunteers for helping him to victory

"Truth be told, one of the reasons why I worked so hard during the campaign is because I saw you work so hard during the campaign and I did not want to let you down," DeSantis said.

He also thanked Trump for "standing by me when it wasn't necessarily the smart thing to do."

DeSantis ran a largely negative campaign, accusing his opponent of corruption and being a failed mayor. Trump visited Florida twice in the final six days of the election to help build turnout for DeSantis.

Gillum ran a largely positive campaign while promising to expand health care, protect the environment and raise corporate taxes to boost education spending.

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