The left’s enthusiasm about Bernie-backed Andrew Gillum Winning the Florida Governor Democrat primary may be misplaced.  Because his primary opponents were focused on President Trump, not on the Tallahassee mayor who seemed such a long-shot, Gillum sailed through the primary unscathed.  This will not be the case in his race against Republican Ron DeSantis, and the DeSantis team will have a lot to work with.

Gillum isn’t terribly well-known outside of Florida, but he’s a long-time Obama supporter, is backed by Tom Steyer and George Soros, and shares much of his campaign platform with failed Democrat presidential candidate and current Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

CNN reports:

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will win the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida, CNN projects, scoring a major victory for the party’s progressive wing while taking another step toward becoming the state’s first black chief executive.

Backed by Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and a coalition of progressive groups, Gillum upset former Rep. Gwen Graham, who had led in the polls for most of the campaign. He led a field of five competitive candidates in which he was the only non-millionaire — and only supporter of “Medicare for all” single-payer health care. Gillum is the first black candidate to win a major-party gubernatorial nomination in Florida.

His victory sets up Florida, the biggest swing state in presidential elections, as a major test of the political atmosphere this fall. Gillum will face Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Trump-endorsed Republican, in a race that pits two 39-year-olds, who in many ways mirror their parties’ national moods, against each other.

. . . . Gillum’s victory, though, came as a stunner in a wide-open contest. Democrats in the race, including billionaire Jeff Greene and wealthy former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, spent more than $100 million for the chance to wrest back control of the governor’s mansion, which has been in Republican hands for two decades. Gillum got a late boost when liberal megadonors Tom Steyer and George Soros led a group that donated $650,000 to his affiliated political action committee.

This affiliation with socialist positions on everything from “Medicare for all” to “a $15-an-hour minimum wage and staunch opposition to the Stand Your Ground self-defense law” reflects the leftward lunge of the Democratic Party.  Their insistence on fielding progressives in battleground states may end up losing them key governorships.

The National Journal reports:

The public’s willingness to embrace progressivism will be tested in at least three other pivotal governor’s races in November [Florida, Arizona, and Georgia]. In an upset, Florida Democrats nominated Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, another Bernie Sanders ally who would be the first African-American governor of the state.

. . . . The difference in these campaigns is that unlike Hogan [in Maryland], the GOP nominees (especially Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp) are just as far to the right, potentially neutralizing the Democrats’ vulnerabilities. But all are running in more conservative states, including two Deep South battlegrounds where liberalism has always been a tough sell.

In fact, Republican operatives are already planning to unveil similar socialist-themed attacks against other progressive candidates. In Florida, Republican strategists note that the “socialist” label is particularly resonant with Hispanics, many of whom associate the description with the totalitarian regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. Even before the primary, Republicans spent money in Arizona against Garcia over his position on immigration.

Gillum: On the Issues

Gillum’s positions on the issues read like they came straight out of Bernie’s presidential campaign, with the exception of #AbolishICE, a more recent development that Gillum supports.

Indeed, Gillum’s proposals read like they came straight out of the socialist SJW handbook.  Examples include: “Community Connections Restorative Justice Program,” “Fair Share for Florida’s Future,” and “Family Friendly Workplaces.”

And like all such progressive socialists, Gillum offers no meaningful way to fund any of his budget-busting Utopian pipe dreams.  Florida does not have a state income tax, though as we can see from progressive states like California, a state income tax doesn’t come close to covering the progressive wishlist.

Here’s a sampling of his position and proposals on specific issues:

On Criminal Justice, Gillum is a proponent of “Ban the Box,” legalizing recreational marijuana, and reforming bail and sentencing guidelines.

On Jobs and the Economy, Gillum is full-on socialist progressive.  He proposes raising the corporate tax to 7.5% (despite the Florida Constitution requiring a supermajority in both state houses to raise the corporate tax above 5%).

He’s also pushing “The “Fair Share” plan calls for rebuilding our public schools, paying teachers a minimum starting salary of $50,000, investing in early childhood education programs, and investing in SHOP 2.0 and vocational training to help get workers the training they need for higher paying jobs.”

On Gun Safety, Gillum doesn’t call for the outright repeal of the Second Amendment; instead, he follows the Democrat party lead in chipping away at it with the standard fare: “a ban on assault weapons, large capacity magazines, and bump stocks; strengthening and requiring universal background checks for all gun sales; closing private sale loopholes; restricting gun access for the mentally ill and known foreign and domestic terrorists; closing the “Boyfriend Loophole” and prohibiting gun possession for those with felony and misdemeanor domestic violence and stalking convictions; and banning the purchase and possession of armor piercing bullets.”

There are problems with this that would justify its own post.  Suffice to say that he doesn’t explain how he’ll identify “known foreign and domestic terrorists,” but my guess is the SPLC would play a key role, and he doesn’t point out that his proposals would effectively require gun registration in Florida.

On Health Care, Gillum promises to expand Medicaid in Florida under ObamaCare, supports “Medicare for all,” and supports government funding of Planned Parenthood.

On Immigration, Gillum is pretty much for open borders, though he doesn’t explicitly say so.  He does say that he wants ICE abolished, “demanded [Governor] Rick Scott support S. 3036, the Keeping Families Together Act,” supports a “comprehensive immigration overhaul,” supports sanctuary cities, and has “forcefully defended immigrants from all around the world, including Syrian refugees.”

On Women’s Rights, (yes, he really does have an “on the issues” on this), Gillum supports “Equal Pay for Equal Work” and promises to hire women to his administration should he win.  He supports Planned Parenthood and is “the only candidate to propose a law protecting women’s access to no-cost contraceptive care under Obamacare.”  “No-cost,” of course, means that the taxpayer foots the bill, including the massive bureaucracy required to provide these “free” contraceptives.  We’d be better off if we could all buy a box of condoms and hand them out to women on the street; they’d be “no cost” to the women, and would save us billions.

He’s also an eco-warrior with Obama-style dreams of green energy investment and hefty carbon taxes/fees and a proponent of “debt-free” college (Bernie’s “free college for all”).  He sees K-12 teachers not as educators but as those who “mold, shape, and develop humanity.”

Gillum Scandals

Gillum is surrounded by controversy, including accusations of various types of wrong-doing and law-breaking.

Gillum controversially demanded that Governor Rick Scott “suspend” Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws because he sees “gun violence” as a “state of emergency.”

Gov. Rick Scott should declare a state of emergency and suspend Florida’s “stand your ground” law over a recent Clearwater case where the shooter wasn’t charged by police, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said Monday.

“The consequence of confusion over how ‘stand your ground’ is applied in this state can result in the loss of life of otherwise innocent people,” said Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor. “It is in fact an emergency in the state of Florida when parents have to be concerned about their children or themselves being gunned down under the color of the law of ‘stand your ground.’ ”

. . . . Gillum, though, is the first to call on Scott to suspend the law. Under Florida’s constitution, the governor can only suspend a law during a state of emergency, which can last for 60 days. Gillum cited former Gov. Charlie Crist’s use of the provision to extend voting hours during the 2008 election as a precedent.

A retired police officer filed a complaint against Gillum for allegedly misusing taxpayer funds for his political campaign.

State Attorney Jack Campbell has launched an investigation into the alleged actions of the Tallahassee Mayor after receiving a complaint letter from a retired Jefferson County law enforcement officer and investigator.

Read letter here.

In his letter, dated March 2, Paul Henry, who said he is also a member of the Jefferson County Grand Jury,  requested a Leon County Grand Jury investigate Mayor Andrew Gillum for allegedly purchasing “several thousands of dollars of political software via public funds” and possibly committing grand theft under Florida Statute (FS) 812.014 and official misconduct under FS 838.022

He said, “Andrew Gillum, in his capacity as Mayor of the City of Tallahassee, a public servant, did violate FS 812.014 (2)(c) “Grand Theft” and FS 838.022 “Official Misconduct” by using at least $3,915 of public funds to obtain personal benefit, to-wit political campaign software and falsified the justification for said software.”

. . . . On February 23 [2017], Tallahassee Reports broke the story that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum had allegedly spent approximately $5,000 in city funds to purchase software from democrat campaign vendor, NGP VAN. That software was allegedly used in campaign email for Gillum in which he mixed “Office of the Mayor” letterhead with his campaign correspondence.

Gillum has also been named in conjunction with an ongoing FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee.

According to the Tallahassee newspaper, three undercover FBI agents showed up in Tallahassee back in 2015, posing as out-of-town developers interested in pursuing opportunities in the state capital. . . .  While it’s impossible to say how far along the investigation is today, judging by the number of local businessmen spotted last month going in and out of a local federal courtroom with their white-collar attorneys in tow, indictments could be on the horizon.

. . . . Gillum’s most direct connection to this case is through a local businessman and lobbyist, Adam Corey, who appears to have introduced the FBI agents to a number of key players in the city, including Gillum. It’s unclear whether Corey believed the agents were developers when he made the introductions or if he was knowingly working with these undercover feds.

Gillum and Corey have known each other since their college days, and Corey served as Gillum’s treasurer during his 2014 mayoral campaign. In 2016, Corey reportedly set up a meeting at his Tallahassee restaurant between Gillum and the FBI agents (whom Gillum believed were developers). According to an email obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat, Corey sent a calendar invite for that meeting while he and Gillum were at an exclusive, $1,400-a-night luxury resort in Costa Rica. Gillum says it was a personal trip in which no business was discussed, but ethics watchdogs remain unconvinced.

. . . . Corey also arranged a weekend meet up later that year in New York City, where he, Gillum, and at least two of the FBI agents took a boat ride and may or may not have attended a Mets game and seen Hamilton. Gillum, who was already in New York City finishing up business for a liberal nonprofit, was photographed on the boat with one of the agents, who went by the name Mike Miller.

That trip remains the subject of a state ethics probe. Gillum has declined to state publicly whether he attended the baseball game or Broadway play, which were mentioned in Corey’s digital invite to the group, but the mayor maintains that he paid his own way during the festivities and that the trip was “merely friends getting together” off the clock. “I have known Adam for 20 years and I had spent time with Mike who was, over the almost year that I knew him, someone who portrayed himself as a developer interested in investing in [Tallahassee’s] south side,” Gillum said in a statement last year. “No public money was used and no city business was discussed on the trip.”

The Tampa Bay Times has more on this trip.

Three of Florida’s Supreme Court justices are facing mandatory retirement in 2019, so the next governor may be making at least three appointments to the state’s highest court.  At this time, current Governor Rick Scott is arguing that he has that power despite his term ending 24 hours before the three justices’ terms expire.  It’s not clear how this will be resolved, or when, so it may also be an issue in this year’s governor’s race.

Florida may have gone for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but we’re still a pretty red state.  Once Gillum’s positions and scandals are known to all, and they will be in the coming months, it’s difficult to see how he wins.  Not impossible, but difficult.

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