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Bernie Sanders calls for ‘revolution’ in Florida led by Andrew Gillum

National icon of progressive Democratic politics U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a political and economic revolution in Florida led by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum as Governor, rousing a crowd Friday at the University of Central Florida.

“This state needs a political revolution,” Sanders declared. “You have a candidate in Andrew Gillum that is going to lead that revolution.

“It’s time we had a government in Washington and a government in Florida that represents all of the people, not just the 1 percent,” Sanders added.

Gillum, too, spoke of  “a progressive revolution, right here in the state of Florida.”

And then he and Sanders each laid out essentially the same progressive playbook: raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and calling for living wages, addressing climate change, committing to environmental protection, declaring health care as a right and seeking universal Medicare, equal rights, investing in education and increasing teachers’ pay, protecting women’s rights to abortion choice, pushing for campaign finance reform, demanding gun law reforms, making commitments to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy, seeking criminal justice reform, restoring rights for convicted felons who served their time, supporting immigration reform and acceptance of immigrants, and for Florida to not be, as Gillum called it, “a show-me-your-papers state.”

“We’re seeing ideas that just a few years ago seemed really radical and fringe, now those are the ideas that the American people overwhelmingly support,” Sanders professed in his 27-minute speech.

“Bernie Sanders has been fighting this progressive battle across this country for decades,” Gillum said in his 16-minute address.

And right back at you, Sanders offered, extolling Gillum as a Governor who can do that in Florida.

“What this is about is looking into your world and trying to figure out what’s going on in the lives of real people. That’s what it’s about,” Sanders. “And after that figure out where you go from here to improve the lives of people who are working. When I look at what is going on in America and what is going on in Florida, it is clear to me we need a revolution to transform what goes on economically, and what goes on politically.”

Most of Central Florida’s leading progressive Democrat revolutionaries joined Sanders and Gillum on stage: State Attorney Aramis Ayala, Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill, Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla, and state Reps. Kamia Brown and Carlos Guillermo Smith. The latter worked up the crowd as Gillum’s last warm-up speaker.

They and a crowd of mostly students, which Gillum’s campaign estimated at 1,000, packed the atrium foyer of UCF’s CFE Auditorium.

“In Andrew, you will have a Governor who understands that the future of this state and the future of our country is with the young people,” Sanders told them.

Gillum first must get through the Aug. 28 primary, where polls consistently have shown him trailing the leaders, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, by more than 10 points.

Friday’s rally was all about getting out the vote for Gillum. He and Sanders each took indirect shots at his Democratic rivals, who also include Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene and Winter Park businessman Chris King, though they did not call them out by name.

They both referred to the quartet of opponents as millionaires, compared with Gillum’s more humble economic status, and Sanders declared you should not have to be a millionaire to run for governor.

And Gillum heated up the crowd with his call for an unabashedly progressive Democrat to run for Governor, part of his standard pitch from the beginning.

“I believe we’re going to see a surge of progressive voters all across the state of Florida who are saying, ‘Enough is enough. We’re tired of Republican Lite. We want someone who fights for our values and our beliefs,'” he said.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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