This Progressive Candidate's Campaign For FL Governor Is Picking Up Major Steam

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By Renae Reints

It's been a big week for the mayor of Tallahassee. Not only did he become the first African-American to win a major-party nomination for Florida governor, but Andrew Gillum's campaign donations totaled $1 million... within just 24 hours. Those six figures came from the Democratic Governors Association Wednesday evening, the day following his democratic primary win, The Associated Press reports. For comparison, The New York Times says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo raised $6 million in the first six months of 2018.

A progressive, Gillum has been largely bolstered by grassroots organizing. He's aligned himself with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (much like New York City congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), supports single-payer health care, and has a strong focus on criminal justice reform. He's also outspoken about the need for environmental protections and minority rights.

On Thursday, Gillum tweeted, "I'm running for Governor for anyone who has ever been told they don't belong. Together, we'll flip Florida blue in 2018, and the country blue in 2020."

The Democratic pick is focused on his grassroots supporters. In several messages, he shares the idea that his win is a win for everyone. "This isn't my moment, this is our movement," he tweeted Thursday.

It wasn't all celebration in the day after Gillum's narrow victory, however. Representative Ron DeSantis, the Republican pick for Florida governor, dealt a blow to Gillum shortly after his primary win.

During an interview with Fox News less than 12 hours after Gillum's victory, DeSantis urged Floridians not to "monkey this up" by supporting "a socialist agenda." Gillum was swift to respond, maintaining his united message. Later that day, on CNN, Gillum said, "I believe that Florida and its rich diversity are going to be looking for a governor who’s going to bring us together. Not divide us. Not misogynists. Not racists. Not bigots."

Cuomo promoted Gillum's response, tweeting out his interview with the Democratic nominee's words: "He was clear about what he meant. He understood the dog-whistle he was blowing, and I understand he intends to speak to a particular part of the base to incite them."

DeSantis' language was widely condemned. A Fox News anchor gave a statement saying "we do not condone" DeSantis' choice of words, but the Florida representative was given a chance to explain himself. Reappearing on Fox News later that day, DeSantis said his statement had "zero to do with race."

"It has everything to do with whether we want Florida to continue to go in a good direction," said DeSantis, denouncing socialism.

Despite his defense, it seems the Democratic Governors Association showed its disdain for DeSantis' comments by turning out their pockets for Gillum. Before this million-dollar-day, Gillum's best fundraising period was between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10, when he raised just over $509,000, The Hill reports.

This boost should be good for Gillum, who The Hill said historically trailed his millionaire and billionaire opponents when it came to campaign dollars. According to AP, Gillum had raised just $7 million before his primary win.

Aside from individual donations from grassroots supporters, CNN reports that Gillum is backed by a collection of organizations, including the Collective PAC, which focuses on African-American candidates; Indivisible, which was founded to resist the Trump movement; and the Working Families Party, which supports candidates who stand for the rights of working families.