Florida's Siesta Key is located between the well-groomed lawns and pristine white sandy beaches. The wealthy city has golf courses, country clubs and its own reality tv show that chronicles the sun's kissed life for some of its glamorous twentysomething residents. For democrats, the area has long been more optional water than paradise. Sarasota County voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and has not elected a Democrat to its county commission for more than five decades. In a normal election cycle, a progressive Democrat who tried to win the Florida Board would largely write out campaigns here and focus on less politically anchored parts of the state. But very little about this year's electoral cycle in America is normal. On a backcoming October day, a few hundred locals visited the heat to see Andrew Gillum, a rising democratic star who has driven a surprisingly competitive contest for the governor against his Republican counterpart, Ron DeSantis. Even though the official announcement of the event only went up the night before, the little pavilion was packed with a crowd of mostly white retired people who had either been prepared with their own folding chairs or simply walked up from the beach in their flip-flops. Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum hugs a supporter at a rally in Siesta Key © Rose Marie Cromwell At 1:00 Gillum restricted the crowd of people. A middle-aged woman with bright red hair grabbed him for a handshake, but Gillum raised her and took her in for a bear…
Florida’s Siesta Key is located between the well-groomed lawns and pristine white sandy beaches. The wealthy city has golf courses, country clubs and its own reality tv show that chronicles the sun’s kissed life for some of its glamorous twentysomething residents.
For democrats, the area has long been more optional water than paradise. Sarasota County voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and has not elected a Democrat to its county commission for more than five decades.
In a normal election cycle, a progressive Democrat who tried to win the Florida Board would largely write out campaigns here and focus on less politically anchored parts of the state. But very little about this year’s electoral cycle in America is normal.
On a backcoming October day, a few hundred locals visited the heat to see Andrew Gillum, a rising democratic star who has driven a surprisingly competitive contest for the governor against his Republican counterpart, Ron DeSantis.
Even though the official announcement of the event only went up the night before, the little pavilion was packed with a crowd of mostly white retired people who had either been prepared with their own folding chairs or simply walked up from the beach in their flip-flops.
Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum hugs a supporter at a rally in Siesta Key © Rose Marie Cromwell
At 1:00 Gillum restricted the crowd of people. A middle-aged woman with bright red hair grabbed him for a handshake, but Gillum raised her and took her in for a bear bark. “Wonderfully!” Exclaimed. He was wearing his beach promotion dress – white polo shirt, navy slacks, leather sneakers.
A local party organizer left him a Sarasota Democrat’s baseball cap and Gillum – ignore Michael Dukaki’s dictation of politics – gamely put it on, sometimes squeezing it into his hands like a little grapefruit to soften the pant.
“I love it! I love it!” He said. “Yes, I have to say I’m blown away by showing you today.”
Their presence continued he was a proof of a move. He recalled how he recently traveled to The Villages, a wealthy, more than 95 percent white Florida retirement group where Trump won nearly 70 percent of the vote in 2016. “Some of you know about The Villages,” he started hopping it. “It’s the most conservative voting area in our state. And people ask me,” Gillum what do you do at in The Villages? “I said,” There are voters in The Villages. . . The way you win is to win a voice than your opponent. “” The person who won.
This Florida Governorship Contest is one of the crucial 2018 contests, which Americans are preparing to vote in next month’s midterms. It encapsulates some of the most extreme ideological parts going through the United States today: between liberal left and conservative rights; between pro-Trump, anti-migrant, “America First” policy and a progressive wing of the Democratic Party. It also raises questions about whether play in these extremes can prove a more effective campaign strategy than to cope with the familiar midfield.
Republican candidate Ron DeSantis with supporters of the Italian club in Tampa © Rose Marie Cromwell
Both men are young – Gillum is 39, DeSantis 40 – and both represent a new generation of leadership for the two parties. For Democrats, an African-American who rose from a working class background to becoming mayor in Tallahassee. For the Republicans, a Harvard and Yale-educated marine prosecutor and congress leader who rose to the top after adapting as a devoted acolyte of Trump and his policy.
Trump, after watching DeSantis on Fox News, approved him on Twitter as “a brilliant young leader” (formerly called him one of his “absolute warriors” after DeSantis repeatedly challenged the Mueller probe).
Gillum, meanwhile, is a bona fide progressive endorsed by Bernie Sanders, patron saint of that movement. His policy puts him all the way out of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party: he advocates not only Medicare for all but also supports the abolition of the ICE government’s immigration enforcement – in its present form, something like most democracy has taken place.
He also demanded Trumps attack. If he wins – and a RealClearPolitic average of votes, he will stand by 3.7 points – he would be Florida’s first black governor, potentially wearing the same state that helped Trump win the presidency just two years ago.
The race is a forerunner to the presidential election in 2020, when Trump is likely to face a progressive democratic candidate. It will also be a test of how strong the president’s support remains in Florida and whether he can win the state again. According to the online survey company Morning Consult, Trump’s approval rating remains barely over water. Ninety-five percent of the Floridians approve of the job he does, 47 percent waits.
Florida is home to more than 13 million voters and is in many ways a microcosm for the rest of the country. It is one of the few areas in the United States that can determine the presidential election and its demographic changes represent a changing America. More than 900 people move to the state every day, some of them are successful Republican seniors, other young people and families of different backgrounds. Most people under the age of 30 in the state are non-white.
Next month’s midterm will be a test of whether thousands of voters, usually appearing much lower than those over the age of 60, will make it in greater numbers for both the elections and 2020.
The governor’s contest may also affect the state senate run, where Bill Nelson, the long-standing Democratic Senate, faces Florida’s current Republican governor, Rick Scott. If Gillum wins his race, it can potentially increase the Nelson campaign, especially with young voters. Nelson, 76, is one of several vulnerable democratic senators who struggle to hold onto their seats and raise the chances that Republicans could strengthen their 51-49 Senate majority.
Gillum was not even meant to win his party’s nomination. But he was also an unlikely candidate to become mayor of Tallahassee when he entered the 2013 competition. He grew up in a low-income family on the outskirts of Miami, with a mother driving a school bus and a father who worked in construction and sometimes sold fruits and vegetables to come by. He was the fifth of seven children, and when he was a teenager, two of his older brothers had been arrested – one because of robbery, the other one for having cocaine.
Gillum supporters in Kissimmee in early October © Rose Marie Cromwell
Gillum mapped another course. An avid reader who falsified a close relationship with his grandmother and shared an appreciation for the church gospel church, highlighted Gillum at the public (state) school. When the family moved north to Gainesville, he became the first of his siblings who went out of high school.
He continued to Florida’s A & M University, a historic black black college, and quickly falsified his political career as a democratic activist. Gillum likes to say that he is proof of what a good American public education can do. “I know what it means to see the general poverty interrupted by good general education,” he told supporters in Sarasota.
Meanwhile was the primary this year behind three famous Democrats, including Gwen Graham, daughter of state-elected governor Bob Graham and a standard carrier for the democratic establishment. Graham was projected to win until the evening in the vote when Gillum pulled off one of the biggest disruptions in the United States primary season and hit her by more than three percentage points and dropped the party, both in the state and across the country.
Joe Gruters, chairman of Sarasota GOP and co-chairman of Trump’s winning Florida campaign in 2016, says the mayor has proved to be a formidable opponent. “Gillum is a good candidate. He is an articulated guy. He speaks very well … People want a better future. Why did Donald Trump win?” Because he wants to “make America Great Again.” If Gillum wins, it will not be because of his socialist policy, it’s because he’s a better campaigner. “
But many Democrats still seem skeptical about Gillum’s chances. A democratic strategist in Tallahassee says that while most of the facility has fallen in line behind him, in private many rue his win. “I think most would say Gwen Graham would be up 10 points now,” Strategen strives before speculating that if DeSanti’s moderate opponent Adam Putnam had won, he would also be up 10 points, so alienating is Gillum and DeSantis to the state’s wide turn of moderate voters.
“Florida is usually determined by independent and moderate. Where to hell are they going?” I have many Republican friends who planned to vote for Gwen when it looked like DeSantis would win, and the day after the primary they said, “What should we do? “”
Luz McNealy in a rally where Gillum received the approval of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló © Rose Marie Cromwell
Gillum’s team knows that there is a need for a sufficiently high level of division among young people and minorities to counter the strong Republican support for Trump and it also hopes to download independently in places like Sarasota. The campaign already seems to have been successful in registering new voters.
During a conversation in Kissimmee I meet Luz McNealy, a 53-year-old grandmother who moved to Florida from Pennsylvania nine years ago. She had long been interested in politics, but said, “I had no idea how to get involved.” Somehow, the Gillum campaign found her, she says, sending a text message to her on her husband’s phone. She has been having events for him since then.
When I talk with Gillum, he puts out an ambitious plan to win the state – one that tumbles up support from democratic fortunes together with Republican places like The Villages. “I decided for the night night that I won the nomination that I would try to go everywhere and talk with everyone that we would not limit ourselves to the way democrats have looked at rural races before – mainly camping in three counties and Pray that we would hold enough votes in the other parts of the state to win, “he says.
Gillum is not upheld in his criticism of Trump. But he also takes conscious pain not to mention him too often. “I try to focus more on my plans for the state. I do not want it … to have Florida voters think I’m so worried about Washington, I do not think so much about them,” he says.
Margaret Good , a Democratic member of Florida’s Representative House © Rose Marie Cromwell
Democrats have taken their heart from a 2018 special election that fills a vacant place in Florida’s representative house. In the race, Margaret Good beat his Republican opponent with 7.5 points in Siesta Key- district, which Trump won in 2016 and has 12,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats. “It was not only a really good win. We also had the highest voter participation in Florida’s modern specialty history, “Good tells me when we meet in her law firm.” Many people said I do not think this is a district you can win. “
Still, the guerrilla team has been ugly Immediately after winning the Republican nomination, DeSantis appeared on cable television and warned Floridians not to “monkey this up” and choose Gillum as governor – something immediately flagged by the Democrats as a “racist dog flute” who echoed Trumps own often racially -tended comments. DeSantis has said that the comment was “zero with race”.
At the same time, Gillum has been plagued by his own controversies: an ongoing FBI investigation of Tallahassee corruption. Gillum says he has not done anything wrong and has been told that he is not under investigation. But the probe has raised questions about his relationship with a former campaign premium, now a lobbyist. Gracious Democrats are worried that the FBI probe points to a deeper concern that Gillum, a relative political neophyte, may have turned to the wrong people.
Campaigns increasingly hostile rhetoric are symbolic of the polarized atmosphere throughout the country. At the Sarasota rally, several participants tell them that they are increasingly in contradiction with their more conservative neighbors. “I had to be very quiet when I came here,” said Faith McVey, a former teacher who moved to Delaware Florida, wearing a white cover, lavender sunglasses and hot pink manicure. She can no longer talk to her brother or her wife about politics or for most of her neighbors. “It’s completely taboo,” she says.
Barbara Luehring, another retiree, tells me she was afraid to put up some democratic signs because she thought she could lose Trump-supporting contractor’s services that help repair the climate system. “I must be quiet,” she says.