With a Bernie Sanders-backed progressive facing off against a populist conservative favored by Donald Trump, the Florida gubernatorial race might turn out to be a dry run for the 2020 presidential election. But first, it could set the stage for a long-overdue debate among Democrats.
The Democratic nominee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, advocates Medicare for all, increasing the state corporate tax rate to 7.75% from 5.5%, and boosting the minimum wage to $15 from $8.25. In a statement issued during the primary campaign, Mr. Gillum endorsed “a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes abolishment of ICE in its current form to be replaced with a more compassionate and focused agency that actually keeps us safer.”
The Republican, Ron DeSantis, who recently resigned his seat in Congress, supports President Trump’s agenda down the line. He sports a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee, 94% from the Club for Growth, and 93% from the National Rifle Association. At the other end of the spectrum, he receives 0% ratings from the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign and 3% from the League of Conservation Voters. His website features endorsements from Sean Hannity and Mark Levin as well as the president.
Progressives argued that nominating business-friendly candidates favorable to suburban voters was a failed strategy. The alternative was to select a candidate who could inspire urban-based racial and ethnic minorities to go to the polls along with unmarried women and young progressives.
Andrew Gillum is that candidate, and much is riding on how he does. If he can mobilize his base without scaring away too many moderate and suburban voters, he will be the next governor of Florida. More than that, he will have blazed the trail for progressives seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
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