Democrats join Andrew Gillum, vowing to 'bring it home' - Florida Politics

Democrats join Andrew Gillum, vowing to ‘bring it home’

Gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum‘s rallying cry — “bring it home” — may be embraced by the entire Democratic Party as it heads into the fall elections.

Democrats — including Bill Nelson, Sean Shaw, Nikki Fried and Jeremy Ring — rallied in Orlando Friday to kick off statewide fall campaigns.

Gillum, just days removed from his surprising primary upset, repeated his oft-told tale about how his grandmother used to send him to school with the message about the education he was to receive, advising him to “bring it home.”

With those cabinet candidates and dozens of other Democratic officeholders and hopefuls — including former Gillum opponents Gwen Graham, Philip Levine, and Chris King — in the crowd of a packed union hall in Orlando, the chant thundered.

Bring it home.

The refrain highlighted a two-hour rally at the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades Local 1010 Union Hall in Orlando, as Democrats from Party Chair Terrie Rizzo down through the list of speakers declared this would be the year the party changed its losing ways in state elections. This was the year things would be different from the past twenty.

Of course, much the same was said four years ago, albeit perhaps with less sincerity, at the exact same union hall, in a near-identical post-primary party rally, which launched the failed 2014 fall campaigns of Charlie Crist, George Sheldon, Will Rankin and Thad Hamilton.

In many ways, this rally was Gillum’s coming out party after an 18-month campaign that didn’t put him up top until Tuesday’s win. However, by Friday he was clearly a party leader.

Ring entered the fall campaign for state Chief Financial Officer. Fried did so for Agriculture Commissioner. Shaw, Attorney General and Nelson for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

But they all spoke as much about Gillum as themselves. So did Graham, Levine and King.

“I asked to be here to speak before Andrew so that I could introduce Andrew and say that all those things that Rick Scott has done in the last eight years, we’re going to reverse that with Andrew Gillum!” Nelson declared, referring to his opponent in the U.S. Senate election.

In praising Gillum, Ring held nothing back.

“The amazing Andrew Gillum is the most electric, electric candidate I’ve ever said. And he’s going to bring us all to victory,” Ring said.

“Andrew Gillum is dynamic,” added King. “Andrew Gillum is the talent that our party has waited for so long.”

In the backdrop of the positivity on Friday, however, was the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee.

Gillum has maintained for months that he is not implicated in the probe, but Ron DeSantis, his Republican opponent, already is making a campaign issue out of the matter.

The DeSantis campaign, which paints Gillum as a “socialist,” on Friday released an email accusing the Democrat’s brother, Marcus, of being involved in the FBI investigation.

“Something’s up. And the voters of Florida deserve answers from Andrew Gillum, preferably before the FBI gives them to us,” DeSantis communications director Stephen Lawson said in an email.

When asked about the corruption probe by reporters Friday, Gillum reiterated that he is not the subject of the inquiry and emphasized that he is willing to provide any information sought by the federal investigators, before pointing the finger at Trump.

“I believe that the difference between Ron DeSantis as how we address the FBI is, we have said, should there be any wrongdoing, we welcome them into our government to get to the bottom of it. I believe that they are clear on what their target is, and that should come to a conclusion soon,” Gillum said Friday.

But amid investigations involving Trump’s 2016 campaign and associates, DeSantis and Trump’s response to the FBI “is to undermine them, cut them off at every turn,” Gillum said.

“Even the president has gone so far as to suggest a ‘deep state.’ That is not how we handled it. We said, you’ve got an important job to do. Nobody wants more to make sure that any actions that are taken that are inappropriate, illegal, or inconsistent with the laws of this state, that people are held fully accountable. That’s my position on it. And I’ll do whatever I can, as mayor, to ensure that they get access to whatever they need in order to bring that to a conclusion,” he said.

Some material from the News Service of Florida is used in this article, with permission.

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 scott@floridapolitics.com.
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