Andrew Gillum captured a 40-minute long, nearly uninterrupted stump speech syndicated this week throughout the entire country, but it was seemingly overlooked by the echo chamber that defines Tallahassee and statewide politics.
The reason? Well, the spot didn’t air on a mainstream political outlet. Instead, the Tallahassee mayor drove his talking points home on The Breakfast Club, a wildly popular radio show that enjoys a premium throne in the realm of hip-hop media.
Gillum, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, sat down Tuesday with show hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God (humbly known as Charlamagne) — names usually omitted in discussions of political talking heads.
But the show — which airs in 50-plus U.S. markets, including Florida stations in Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Central Florida, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola — didn’t stick to its usual modus operandi. Instead of discussing rap minutiae and modern culture news, the hosts sidelined themselves and allowed Gillum to delve deeply into his progressive vision for the Sunshine State.
The show arguably is driven by Charlamagne. His brash criticism, commentary and longtime ubiquitous presence in hip-hop lends him enough star power to be considered an influential cultural icon, particularly among millennials. The Breakfast Club’s YouTube page boasts more than 1.7 million subscribers. Charlamagne’s Twitter account has amassed close to 2 million followers.
In 2015, Kanye West said he respected the show because it’s a “voice to society. This is the voice of, I’d say, of the barbershop. This is a voice of the streets.”
Gillum, dressed in a full suit, sat among the three hosts. To his right, Charlamagne is seen sporting a U-God hat. U-God is a member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan rap collective.
The Tallahassee mayor went through the whole gamut, talking education, voting rights restoration, marijuana legalization and immigration reform. He also discussed the election of President Donald Trump, hypothesizing it has “awoken a giant in a lot of people who previously thought ‘maybe my vote doesn’t matter maybe [politicians] are all just alike.’”
Then, before a national audience, Gillum continued, “We now have a president that is unabashedly racist.
“Almost [isn’t] ashamed to even show it, you know based off his comments or what he said about the people of Haiti, what he said about the continent of Africa — although I’m not sure he thinks it’s a continent since he refers to Africa as if it’s one location when in fact it’s diverse throughout the length and the breadth of it.”
Gillum also criticized the president for his comments regarding women. He likened Trump’s intelligence to that of a fourth-grader.
“We gotta recognize that elections have consequences,” Gillum said.
Commenting on national affairs traditionally is a tactic reserved for federal campaigns. But it seems to have an increasing role in the race for Florida governor. On the Democratic side, all candidates have lashed out against Trump. In the Republican race, it’s been the opposite.
Republican Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has temporarily won the GOP scramble to align with Trump, grabbing the president’s quasi-endorsement via Twitter ahead of DeSantis’ official entrance into the race.
Gillum, via Twitter, now has his own celebrity backing.
— Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) January 30, 2018
It’s worth noting that Gillum’s bid for the Governor’s Mansion is routinely criticized for underperforming cash hauls (though that narrative is losing its edge amid recent campaign windfalls linked to billionaire George Soros). Fundraising, in recent history, seems to be the distinguishing factor for winning gubernatorial candidates in the Sunshine State.
But the Tuesday spot didn’t cost a dime, according to Gillum’s campaign. It was an earned media milestone, and a follow-through on the campaign’s promise to make up cash gaps with the enigmatic “grassroots” crutch.
As of publishing, Gillum’s Breakfast Club interview floats around 72,000 views on YouTube. Expected gubernatorial candidate and House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s recent ad (which sparked the scheduling of a worldview debate between Gillum and the speaker) touts the dangers of illegal immigration and sits around 36,000 views, but also was televised in major Florida media markets this week. The difference? Corcoran’s ad set his committee back $534,000.
Return on investment, however, will unfold in the upcoming elections.