Running in one of the last states to hold their primary elections ahead of the midterms this November, Democrat Andrew Gillum won his party’s nomination to be Florida’s governor in a surprise upset. Despite sitting well behind opponent Gwen Graham in polls, he prevailed, inspiring those perhaps dissatisfied with a lack of progressive representation and also indicative, no doubt, of the surge in support of such representation. More voters cast a ballot in the 2018 Florida Democratic primary than had in a similar election in decades.
That support has culminated into a major newspaper endorsement Gillum can now claim. The Miami Herald published a piece praising the Tallahassee mayor this weekend, casting him as the most sure candidate to fight for all Floridians — and even Florida itself, considering the ongoing threat of climate change.
‘Andrew Gillum is the best candidate to pull Florida back to the center, back to making sure the middle class and working class don’t continue to bear the brunt of Tallahassee’s misguided spending; back to acting on behalf of the Floridians denied health insurance by the current administration; back to putting public schools, which serve the majority of the state’s children, in the spotlight; back to being a leader in the fight against sea-level rise and the degradation of the environment.’
Meanwhile, the Herald noted, Republican opponent Ron DeSantis’ record on each of those issues is less than optimal. For instance, he has opposed the Affordable Care Act time and time again, supporting its repeal — a GOP effort that never came to fruition. Roughly nine percent of Floridians were recorded as maintaining an ACA health plan in 2017 — and should the Republican hoping to be their next governor have had his way, they’d have all been without insurance because of politics.
There’s an extra issue in Florida too — the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Under the current state of federal legislation, states can opt out of expanding Medicaid, and under eight years of Republican Rick Scott’s leadership, that’s exactly what Florida’s done. DeSantis would no doubt continue that, leaving the some 400,000 uninsured Floridians at-risk.
Additionally, the Herald has no faith that DeSantis will change the Scott administration’s policy of supporting educational institutions like charter schools at the expense of public schools, an issue that has ironically enough gone national thanks to the ascent of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who supports the same.
The newspaper also highlights an issue that Florida remains on the front lines of — climate change. Although they do acknowledge that DeSantis has taken important steps like asserting an opposition to fracking, he has not, by and large, proven himself overly keen on ruthlessly protecting the environment. He’s just as likely to support Republican deregulation ideals, he’s proven in Congress.
These issues sit in addition to some other, perhaps more “viral” ones. DeSantis, for instance, in the days following his Republican primary victory, called on Florida voters to not “monkey this up” by electing his opponent, who is black.
Florida voters, meanwhile, seem to be listening to voices like the Herald. Gillum has led in poll after poll, registering as much as a 12 percent lead in a recent CNN undertaking.
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