In almost any other context Andrew Gillum’s run for governor might seem presumptuous. He is, after all, only 37-years-old, and already looking to take the helm of a major political entity with an nnual budget in excess of $78 billion.
With 29 electoral votes– one of the three highest in the nation– Florida is a major political swing state, and if current population trends continue the Sunshine State is on track to gain another 2 electoral votes after the 2020 elections. Our political significance is guaranteed to increase as we continue to grow.
The citizens of Florida need a governor willing to represent all segments of this increasingly diverse state, and to make people– not politics– his first priority. With an almost equal number of Democrats (4.6 million registered) and Republicans (4.4 million registered), and another 3 million independents, the next Democratic candidate for governor has to be capable of bringing together people from all three groups to embrace much-needed change. None of us should ever forget Gov. Rick Scott’s Executive Clemency Board and its archaic attempts to keep the state mired in a draconian, racist past.
Except for 1992, when it sided with incumbent George Bush, Florida has voted with the winner in every presidential election since 1964. That makes the state– and the possibility of inspired political leadership– critically important during the next presidential election.
Despite his youth, Gillum boasts an impressive resume of political experience. He has been in public service for more than a decade, and he’s politically savvy. His position on the issues is not personality-based– he sided with Gov. Rick Scott in Scott’s battle with Speaker Richard Corcoran over taxpayer-funded economic incentives, but distanced himself from Scott in calling for a strengthening of programs tied to organized labor unions.
His education platform acknowledges the importance of vocational education with a focus on skills for students who don’t plan on going to college. His “Shop 2.0” plan is not exactly a novel idea, but we believe he understands the importance of an approach to education that focuses on employability, and on the trades most likely to prepare graduating high-schoolers for building and repairing our technical and mechanical infrastructure.
Both Gov. Scott and President Trump came to their elections after dubious private sector careers involving close association with fraud. For Scott it was his company’s historic Medicare fraud. For Trump it was Trump University and the numerous contractors who never got paid. Gillum has the cloud of a FBI investigation of Tallahassee’s Community Redevelopment Agency hovering over him, but we don’t expect him to become a target. Unlike Scott and Trump, Gillum has no such cross to bear. He’s clearly electable.
Can Gillum win? We think he can. This young man brings the right experience, temperament and level of competence to this 2018 ship of hope. We believe voters will see his suitability– and his passion– for public service.
Andrew Gillum gets The Advocate’s vote of confidence for governor of the Sunshine State.