Andrew Gillum Archives - Page 4 of 67 - Florida Politics

Sean Pittman: Far-left labels don’t apply to Andrew Gillum

If you believe the conventional wisdom of the Florida Governor’s race, voters have a stark choice between a Bernie Sanders Democrat and a Donald Trump Republican.

Andrew Gillum, who recently chose his primary opponent Chris King as his running mate, is indeed running against Republican Congressman and presidential acolyte, Ron DeSantis, with Jeanette Nunez for Lieutenant Governor.

It is indeed a glaring political contrast, but not in the way the DeSantis camp would have you believe.

I can’t speak for the Republicans — and won’t. However, the far-out description doesn’t fit Gillum, and it shouldn’t fly as campaign fodder in the November election.

Yes, Sanders did come to Florida and endorse Gillum. But, Gillum was a Hillary Clinton surrogate during the 2016 campaign and made her short list for running mate. Gillum was part of a four-member effort in Tallahassee that raised $500,000 for Obama’s first run as president in 2008.

Now, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is with Gillum as brother-in-arms; his primary opponent, Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, told Gillum to “go out and win the d— thing” as part of her endorsement. State Sen. Lauren Book, the daughter of one of the capitol’s most influential lawyer/lobbyists, also made the shortlist for Gillum’s running mate.

If you know Florida politics, this is not exactly the makings of a leftist cabal.

Besides those who support him, Gillum’s record as Tallahassee Mayor doesn’t suggest a socialist ideology either. In fact, the mayor-turned-gubernatorial candidate has pushed sensible policies that have fostered growth and development in the state’s capital city.

As Mayor, Gillum got rid of business license fees, revised the permitting process to make it more timely and refunded utility deposits to businesses in good standing. The changes made Tallahassee a better place for business and home to Florida’s fastest growing economy.

But, what about all that support from George Soros and Tom Steyer, the two billionaires most identified with progressive causes? Gillum may share political beliefs with the two, but he also appreciates the support from them and the full range of Floridians backing his campaign.

The reality is that many of these so-called progressive issues are becoming more mainstream by the day. Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans favor “Medicare-for-All.” People actually want affordable and accessible health care, including many Republicans who see the value in Medicare and Medicaid expansion as a way to improve medical services and lower drug prices.

Raising the minimum wage in Florida fails the radical-left standard, too.

You don’t need a poll, although several do show Floridians think the current state minimum wage of $8.25 needs to be raised, given our low-wage economy makes it difficult to make ends meet with only one job.

So, while it may be easy to mischaracterize Gillum as a member of the radical fringe, it’s just not true. Facts suggest otherwise.

As the campaign goes on, more and more Floridians will see Gillum for who for who use he is — a pragmatic candidate whose common-sense ideas are welcome by the voters and much more mainstream than many pundits think.

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Sean Pittman is the senior partner of the Pittman Law Group, a Tallahassee-based law firm and co-host of Sunday morning television talk show “The Usual Suspects.”

Ron DeSantis reels in most matching funds

Florida’s matching-funds program pumped $142,665 more into the governor’s race on Friday.

The program, which matches contributions of $250 or less for gubernatorial and Cabinet candidates who qualify, sent a check worth $79,488 to Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis and $63,177 to Democrat Andrew Gillum.

DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, has now received $1.055 million from the program, while Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, has collected $558,241, according to numbers posted on the state Division of Elections website.

Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, the Republican candidate for attorney general, received $35,574 on Friday. She has received $380,175 from the program. Her Democratic opponent, state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa, didn’t get a check on Friday but has received $222,702 from the state.

Republican state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis got $350 on Friday, bumping his campaign’s state assistance to $305,105. Democrat Jeremy Ring, a former state senator running for chief financial officer, has not entered the program.

Overall, the state has provided nearly $5.2 million to candidates, including four who failed to win primaries — gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham and Adam Putnam, attorney-general candidate Ryan Torrens, and agriculture-commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley. The gubernatorial race has accounted for $3.9 million of the state matching funds. In 2014, candidates drew $4.1 million from the state program during the primary and general elections.

Florida Democrats hit ‘right-wing extremist’ Ron DeSantis on health care

The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) is out with a new campaign hitting Republican gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis on his long-running opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

The FDP released a new video titled “DeSantisCare,” as well as a new website looking to highlight DeSantis’ health care record. We reached out to the DeSantis campaign for comment on the FDP’s efforts and are awaiting a reply.

The video and website pose as mock ads for the new “DeSantisCare.” While purporting to sell viewers on the idea of DeSantisCare, the new video and site are littered with jabs at the Republican’s health care proposals.

“Are you a senior who is tired of Medicare and just want to be uninsured?” the video’s narrator asks.

“Are you against protections for pre-existing conditions? If yes, then this is big.”

The video then cuts to a clip of DeSantis on Fox Business saying, “I want to repeal all of Obamacare.”

“From Ron DeSantis, there’s now a health care plan that will make sure you pay more for less: DeSantisCare,” the narrator continues.

The parody video then turns to claims of what DeSantis’ health care policies may mean for Florida, interspersed with other past clips of DeSantis criticizing Obamacare’s efforts to reform the nation’s health care system.

“Enjoy the golden years with higher prices, below-average care and increased risk of death,” the narrator says.

“While using DeSantisCare, go to the emergency room immediately if you experience foot in mouth, diarrhea, MAGA, increased anxiety, Fox News addiction, paranoid conspiracy theories, headaches or a fever. These are not all the possible side effects, as DeSantisCare may make existing problems worse.”

DeSantis has long opposed Obamacare and voted to repeal and replace the law with the American Health Care Act. Those efforts died in the Senate last year.

“Ron DeSantis has consistently voted against Florida’s seniors and working families in Washington,” said FDP Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo.

“Instead of putting Florida families first, DeSantis is a right-wing extremist who has voted to take away Floridians’ health care, raise health care costs, take away protections for pre-existing conditions, and destroy Medicare. DeSantis failed to stand up for Floridians in Washington — so why would we want to give him a promotion?”

DeSantis is competing with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to be Florida’s next Governor. DeSantis announced Monday morning he was resigning from Congress immediately in order to focus on his campaign against Gillum.

#FlaPol in Review: A weekend roundup

Professional football is underway. And so is professional politicking.

Consider this a highlight reel of Florida politicians’ activity from over the weekend.

Vice President Mike Pence hit the trail for Rick Scott:

Bill Nelson, who’s fighting to keep his Senate seat, touted the endorsement of two Puerto Rican mayors this weekend:

From Ron DeSantis :

Andrew Gillum held a rally in Orlando:

Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw spoke with University of Florida Democrats:

Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Nikki Fried joined Gillum at the Orlando rally:

Jeremy Ring, who’s running for CFO, also attended:

Incumbent CFO Jimmy Patronis welcomed Scott on the campaign trail :

U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana RosLehtinen attended the Miami Hurricanes home game:

Rep. Gus Bilirakis is representing the Buccaneers at the U.S. Capitol:

Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy canvassed Oviedo:

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith also is out on the trail in Orlando:

A slew of Northeast Florida lawmakers aided state Rep. Jackie Toledo on the trail this weekend:

State House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, who’s running against incumbent state Sen. Dana Young, attended the annual FEA conference.

 

Whom do you believe: Andrew Gillum or his Michael Cohen?

Let’s give Andrew Gillum the benefit of the doubt.

When he says that the FBI told him he is not the target of an investigation into the city of Tallahassee, it’s pretty easy to believe him because, from the surface level, it appears City Commissioner Scott Maddox is the politician with the crosshairs trained on him.

To refresh: Gillum has been linked to the FBI investigation thanks to his ties to Adam Corey. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Corey, a lobbyist and entrepreneur, has been named in at least three subpoenas related to the public corruption probe. Corey’s $2.1 million loan in local tax money to renovate the Tallahassee-based Edison Restaurant is part of the FBI probe.

Gillum has steadfastly maintained that he is not the subject of the federal inquiry and that he has cooperated with investigators, turning over thousands of pages of documents.

As clumsy as it was, Gillum’s effort to publicly release receipts that he says show he paid for travel that is currently under investigation by the state’s ethics commission has reduced the affair, at least politically, to just another case of whataboutism.

When Republicans suggest that those receipts do nothing to shed light on Gillum’s luxury trips to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents, Gillum’s campaign gets to blast Ron DeSantis for backing Donald Trump‘s undermining of the FBI’s probe into Russian electoral collusion.

“You’ve got a Republican in Ron DeSantis who’s spent the last year obstructing the FBI, attacking the FBI and trying to discredit the FBI. And now he has the gall to talk about an FBI investigation that Andrew Gillum has been cooperating with and trying to help them resolve. They’ll attack us on that, and we’ll go right back at it,” Scott Arceneaux, a former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party who’s a senior consultant on Gillum’s campaign, told the News Service Florida.

To bottom line it: The FBI investigation into Gillum’s City Hall is mitigated by the FBI investigation into Trump’s White House. This is part of the reason why the first round of public polls is deadlocked while showing intensity among each candidate’s political base.

But here’s what is still concerning about Gillum and those receipts: has he left himself vulnerable to a perjury charge?

Immediately after Gillum disclosed bank records to show he withdrew $400 to pay for his share of the $1,400-a-night Costa Rica villa that was shared by several couples, an attorney for Corey disputed that account, according to Gary Fineout of The Associated Press.

The attorney said Corey won the Costa Rica lodging through a charity auction and “to date Mr. Corey has not received any cash from the mayor.” He added that Corey did not purchase or swap for a ticket to the Broadway show “Hamilton,” which Gillum and his brother took in as part of their trip to New York City.

“The idea that Marcus Gillum would have exchanged something for the ‘Hamilton’ ticket is nonsense,” Corey’s attorney, Christopher Kise, told Fineout.

So, again, let’s concede that Gillum isn’t the target of the FBI investigation. Let’s even concede that, in the end, even if it finds Gillum responsible for something involving that travel, the state’s ethics commission really doesn’t have the teeth to bite him.

And, finally, let’s concede that even if the ethics commission does ultimately fault Gillum, it won’t matter a lick with those supporting him because they’re as against DeSantis/Trump as they are for Gillum.

All of that is conceded. But the issue still remains: Gillum provided testimony to state investigators that he paid Adam Corey cash for that trip to Costa Rica. Gillum provided testimony to state investigators that his brother had obtained a ticket to Hamilton in a swap for a concert ticket.

Corey, who has been a friend to Gillum their entire adult lives and who once served as Gillum’s campaign treasurer, is publicly stating that is a lie.

This leaves the situation with three possibilities.

One, Gillum is telling the complete truth, Corey is lying and the investigation will bear that out. Gillum essentially wins.

Two, the truth is somewhere in between what Gillum and Corey are saying and the investigation will conclude without determining who is really telling the truth. Gillum wins by default.

Three, Gillum is lying and Corey has given sworn testimony to the contrary. And he’s able to produce some sort of documentation to undermine Gillum’s statements. Gillum could be in big trouble.

(Update — 7:42 a.m. — I guess there is a fourth possibility. Gillum could be lying, but his statements to investigators were not made under oath and therefore he might lose in the court of public opinion but he would not be in legal jeopardy.)

In an ironic way, the showdown between Gillum and Corey is similar to that of Trump and his former fixer, Michael Cohen, who blew away the president’s credibility by providing federal prosecutors with evidence that Trump was lying.

Might Corey have similar evidence?

What if he has an email from the days when FBI agents weren’t camped out in the capital reminding his then-friend Andrew that he needed the cash for that trip they took to Costa Rica? What if there is a loose text message to Gillum’s brother, Marcus, that contradicts the ticket swap story?

Who knows what is out there.

Right now, Corey is the most intriguing character in Tallahassee. For more than a year, he has walked around town clearly having been taken down several pegs. But he still has that twinkle in his smile and he remains a charismatic figure. He has one of the best-connected lawyers in the state representing him.

And it’s obvious he wants to tell someone — everyone — that he’s not 100 percent to blame for what has gone down in this extraordinary saga.

Everyone assumes Corey has struck a deal with prosecutors.

What he might have had to say as part of a deal could be what decides the fate of Florida’s gubernatorial race.

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Material from The Associated Press and the News Service of Florida was used in this post. 

Democrats for Cabinet calling for Groveland Four pardons, Republicans mum

In 2017 the Florida Legislature acknowledged and apologized for one of Florida’s ugliest recorded events of 20th-century racism. Yet barring a late surprise it would be left to the next state government to address the Groveland Four, and all four Democratic Florida Cabinet nominees pledged they would move swiftly, if elected, to issue long-sought pardons.

On Tuesday the Florida Board of Clemency will meet. As with the previous five times the board has met since the Florida Legislature urged Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet to issue posthumous pardons for “grave injustices perpetrated against Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas,” such pardons are not on the agenda.

The offices of Scott and the other Cabinet members, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, have never publicly said whether they have any intention of considering the pardons demanded by the Legislature and families of the four men whose lives were destroyed in 1949 after what now are recognized as false rape accusations and a series of racism-fueled injustices.

That silence continued through the end of last week, despite fresh inquiries from Florida Politics and others. On Friday, Scott’s office provided essentially the same response it did twice earlier, last October and in April, saying only that he is keeping his options open. The statement did not say what those options might be, or if the options include not acting at all.

The bipartisan-pushed and -celebrated resolution CS/HCR 631 was unanimously approved by both chambers of the Florida Legislature in April 2017, urging them to perform “expedited clemency review of the cases and grant full pardons.”

Now, all four Democratic Florida Cabinet nominees including gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum are making it clear that they would act swiftly, if elected, on behalf of the Groveland Four. The Republican nominees each declined opportunities to comment on the pardons.

The Democrats also are declaring shame on Scott, Bondi, Putnam and Patronis for doing and saying nothing so far.

There is only one more scheduled meeting of the Clemency Board under Scott and the current Florida Cabinet, set for Dec. 5.

“It makes me incensed that the Cabinet would just ignore the will of a bipartisan Legislature,” said Democratic chief financial officer nominee Jeremy Ring, a former state senator. “This was [Republican House Speaker] Richard Corcoran and [Democratic state Sen.] Gary Farmer coming together, right? This was a unanimous decision. … But more than just absurd that they would ignore the Legislature, it’s unconscionable and mean that they would ignore the families.”

“The total silence from the Governor and Florida Cabinet on expediting the pardons of the Groveland Four speaks volumes about why we so desperately need new leadership in Tallahassee,” Democratic agriculture commissioner nominee Nikki Fried said in a written statement. “As ag commissioner, and a member of the cabinet, I would not hesitate to move the clemency review process, and these long-deserved pardons, forward quickly. The Groveland Four, and their families, deserve to finally realize the justice they were never able to in their lifetimes. And Florida deserves a Cabinet that will actually act in the spirit of fairness and compassion when it comes to the clemency review process.”

“Justice for Ernest Thomas, Charles Greenlee, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin is seven decades overdue,” Democratic attorney general nominee Sean Shaw said in written statement. “I will do everything within my power to bring closure for these families if this is not resolved by my first Clemency Board meeting as attorney general.”

Gillum declined to comment, though his campaign staff and his running mate made it clear he, too, is ready to issue pardons.

“The mistreatment suffered by these young men should trouble every law-abiding citizen and posthumous pardons from Gov. Scott are long overdue,” Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Chris King said in a written statement.

Records released by the FBI and evidence and testimony gathered by Civil Rights crusaiders including Thurgood Marshall, the future Supreme Court justice, laid a powerful case that the four were falsely accused of raping a white woman in a rural area of Lake County outside Groveland in 1949. The story of racism and justice gone awry, and the individual stories of nightmares-come-true of the Groveland Four, were first comprehensively detailed in Gary Corsair‘s 2012 book “Legal Lynching: The Sad Saga of the Groveland Four” and then internationally exposed in Gilbert King‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning, 2013 best seller “Devil in the Grove.”

Shepherd and Thomas were killed in custody. Greenlee and Irvin were convicted and imprisoned. They since have died.

“We hereby acknowledge that Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas, the Groveland Four, were the victims of gross injustices and that their abhorrent treatment by the criminal justice system is a shameful chapter in this state’s history,” the Florida Legislature declared in the resolution.

The resolution also extended the Florida Legislature’s “heartfelt apology to the families … for the enduring sorrow caused by the criminal justice system’s failure.”

The desperate familes, watching aging loved ones who are contemporaries of the Groveland Four move into the twilights of their lives, have gone from joyful to angry as time has slipped by since that resolution was published, Ap;ril 28, 2017, without any word of formal considerations of such pardons from the Florida Cabinet.

They’re now assisted by a loosely-defined group that is getting pro-bono help from the firm Edelman Orlando for a more organized push for the pardons. The nameless group includes several family members and several others who’ve been involved in the effort for years, such as King and Josh Venkataraman, the young activist who brought the matter to the attentions of Farmer, then-state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, state Rep. Bobby DuBose and the Legislature. The group has been writing to the Cabinet members urging action, and seeking more media attention. So far they’ve not heard anything from Florida Cabinet officials either.

“It’s like the Legislature vote did not happen,” said Greenlee’s daughter, Carol Greenlee.

Among survivors is Henrietta Irvin, sister of Walter Irvin.

“There’s an 84-year-old woman in Miami with crippled hands that no longer work, who can no longer bathe herself or brush her hair, who spends her days in bed, wasting away because she has no appetite – a divorcee who raised children, worked long hours at a hospital, buried two daughters, took care of a mentally disabled brother for decades, who has nurtured the hope that her wrongfully-convicted brother, Walter Lee Irvin, would one day be exonerated,” Corsair wrote in an email to Florida Politics. “I believe only one thing is keeping this praiseworthy woman alive – a fading hope that the state of Florida will right a terrible wrong and restore Walter Lee Irvin’s to nullify his criminal record and restore his reputation to law-abiding citizen.”

The response from Scott’s office, from his press secretary Ashley Cook, did not provide any specific reason for Irvin or others involved to hope that a resolution is forthcoming.

“Governor Scott is aware of the Groveland Four case and is strongly against any form of racial injustice or discrimination. Currently, the families of Walter Irvin and Charles Greenlee have applications pending with the Commission on Offender Review which, on behalf of the state of Florida, conducts clemency investigations per standard procedure and the Florida Constitution. After the Commission concludes clemency investigation, their findings are presented to the four-member Board of Executive Clemency,” Cook said in a written statement. “We continue to review all of our options.”

Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, is ready to pursue pardons “following the will of the Legislature,” if he is elected governor, according to his spokesman. “The Groveland Four and their families deserve closure,” said Geoff Burgan.

John Stemberger: Andrew Gillum in two words: impressive and radical

Florida Democrats have nominated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to be their choice for Governor who will run against Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis on Nov. 6.

No doubt, Gillum is impressive. He is smart and attractive. He is a winsome communicator, has a beautiful family and has a certain youthful excitement about him.

His personal story is moving. He was born poor in Miami. His mother was a school bus driver and his father, a construction worker. He was the fifth of seven children and the first to graduate from high school. Gillum was elected to Tallahassee’s City Council in 2003 while he was still a student at Florida A&M University. He stayed on the City Council until his election as Mayor in 2014. A pastor friend of mine in Tallahassee who has personally known Gillum for years said Gillum is “Obama 2.0” and could easily be a future President of the United States.

In terms of political currency, Andrew Gillum is the package. He could be the most impressive Democrat candidate for Governor in modern Florida political history.

But he is also the most radical.

He self-identified in the primary as the “true progressive in this race,” and the USA Herald called Gillum the “far-left choice” in the Democratic field. CNN reported, “Gillum was, without question, the choice of liberals in this race” and said the lesson of the primary election was, “you can’t be too liberal.”

Gillum was backed early by radical activist and billionaire political funders, George Soros and Tom Steyer. Soros of New York is worth around $8 billion. Steyer of California is worth around $1.6 billion. If you have never heard of these men, do a couple of Google searches and you will realize how politically dangerous and far to the left these major out-of-state players are. They will eventually pump millions into Gillum’s campaign to silently manipulate the future of our state. Gillum said he is “deeply appreciative of Mr. Soros, as well as Mr. Steyer….”

Gillum was also endorsed by socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The Bernie endorsement was made in person and came complete with a big public hug with State Rep. Carlos Smith, Florida’s openly gay-identified activist legislator standing by with a co-endorsement.

On economic policy, Gillum wants to turn Florida in an entirely new direction. He wants to raise the minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 an hour. He is also on record for raising the corporate tax rate to more than 40 percent — which is about a billion dollars. A Forbes magazine article described it by saying “Gillum’s proposal would make Florida the high tax capital of the South for businesses.” If you understand anything about economic policy, you know why these are really bad ideas for small businesses, for middle-class wage earners and for our overall economic growth as a state.

On education policy, he is an open enemy to school choice and vouchers and is “strongly opposed” to charter schools. He also wants to socialize and adopt Bernie Sanders’ free college education policy by “making college debt free.”

On social policy, having medical marijuana in Florida for certain medical conditions is not enough. Like personal injury lawyer John Morgan, Gillum now also wants to legalize pot for recreational purposes throughout our state, which is the family-friendly vacation capital of the world.

Gillum is backed by two of the most radically liberal groups in our state, Equality Florida and Planned Parenthood. These were supporting groups of the recent “die in” where activists and Democratic candidates lay down in “mass protest” inside Publix grocery stores across the state blocking moms from shopping on a Saturday morning this summer.

Gillum is one of the strongest advocates for the creation of new LGBTQ rights and “transgender rights.” He supports the so-called “Competitive Workforce Act” (CWA) bill that would allow men who subjectively express themselves as women to use women’s showers, dressing rooms and bathrooms in public schools, gyms, domestic violence shelters, scout camps, YMCA camps, and all other “public accommodations.” This is a blatant violation of the privacy, dignity, and safety of women and children. Mr. Gillum is apparently more sensitive to the “needs” of the biological males who act out as females than the thousands of real women who have suffered rape, abuse, and violence at the hands of men who would have to undress and shower with other men in close and intimate personal spaces if the CWA passes.

He has been described as a “sanctuary sympathizer” and directly called for abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

On health care, Gillum is on record wanting “Medicare for All,” saying he would “work through with anyone … to make health care more universal in Florida.”

He is pro-abortion and wants to use our tax dollars in Florida to reinstate funding to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America.

He is opposed to robust 2nd Amendment rights and has sued the National Rifle Association as Mayor of Tallahassee to prevent ordinary citizens from defending themselves in city parks. Gillum’s website lists extensive new gun control laws he wants and proudly advertises he “led marches” for new gun control laws.

Finally, Gillum has been dogged by and is embroiled in scandal and controversy over various ethics charges and other shady transactions.

As Mayor, he purchased an online email system with hard-earned taxpayer’s money and then used that for Democratic political campaigns and not city business. Since then he has been embroiled in a political firestorm. Brazenly, he said that he does not regret purchasing the email software, only that a political campaign email was “accidentally” sent. He did reimburse the city but as of 2017, the matter was being investigated by Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil.

Additionally, and more significantly, there is an ongoing federal investigation into public corruption in Tallahassee that looms over Gillum. The scandal involves out-of-town developers who were able to influence city development projects. The federal probe is related to unreported gifts of Broadway tickets, boat rides, food and hotel rooms received during a New York City trip with a Tallahassee lobbyist and at least two undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen.

Two things are clear about Andrew Gillum. He is very impressive. But he also is very radical. Florida deserves better. Much better.

John Stemberger is a conservative leader who practices law in Orlando and leads the Florida Family Policy Council.

Andrew Gillum at Orlando rally: Cowardly Donald Trump ‘won’t @ me, y’all’; RNC responds

Andrew Gillum, Democratic candidate for governor, told an Orlando crowd Saturday that President Donald Trump fearfully avoids him on social media.

“The president is real savvy on his Twitter feed. He tends to talk about me in Montana and other places,” Gillum said. “But he’s unfortunately a little cowardly. He won’t @ me, y’all.”

Indeed, the only time Trump has mentioned Gillum via Twitter came when he congratulated Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis for winning Florida’s GOP primary. Then, Trump called Gillum a “Socialist Mayor” who let crime flourish in Tallahassee. But he failed to use Gillum’s Twitter handle, @AndrewGillum, which would have sent a notification to the Democratic candidate.

Regardless, Gillum did see the tweet, and he (or campaign team members managing his Twitter account) offered a response 13 minutes after Trump’s original post that did employ the president’s favored handle.

Republican National Committee officials, for their part, say Trump had Gillum pegged, and said an FBI investigation of the Tallahassee mayor would bear that out.

“President Trump was correct when he called Gillum a ‘failed socialist mayor,’” said Taryn Fenske, RNC spokesperson.

Fenske alleged the FBI investigation would determine Gillum used his office for personal gain in accepting gifts from undercover agents and awarding lucrative contracts to his campaign treasurer. The Gillum campaign maintains the candidate is not the subject of the investigation but his critics have hammered him on an incomplete release of receipts.

“Gilllum has no idea how to run the city of Tallahassee, let alone the entire state of Florida,” Fenske said.

Trump came up Saturday at a Gillum’s official campaign kickoff, which drew about 1,200 people the Orlando Downtown Recreation Center to hear he and running mate Chris King, as well as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, rally supporters around the Democratic ticket’s message of restoring dignity to Florida’s working class.

In Gillum’s speech, he spoke more often about Trump and outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, than he did of DeSantis.

But he did mention his Republic opponent in an effort to tie him more directly to the president.

“Ron DeSantis wants to call names. He wants to divide,” Gillum said. “He wants to return to the politics of Donald Trump. But on Nov. 6, Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, they have another thing coming.”

While Gillum won the nomination largely through winning strong Florida’s major cities, he told supporters in Orlando he planned to campaign everywhere in the state leading up to the general election.

He referenced a primary visit to The Villages, a Republican bastion, where he said around 500 people showed up. “Almost none of them with a face that looked like mine, but that’s okay,” said Gillum, the first black Democratic nominee for governor.

The event, he said, turned into a small-donation fundraiser and his campaign pulled in about $6,000.

In terms of succeeding Scott in the governor’s mansion, DeSantis said he would accept money to expand Medicaid and any federal grants for high-speed rail, money he said Florida turned down because of a dislike of ObamaCare and the Obama stimulus.

He also promised to trust scientists on climate change and global warming.

But in an apparent pushback on that ‘socialist’ label from Trump and others, he also stressed the importance of business owners getting access to capital and promised to make Florida a leader in innovation in the nation.

See Gillum’s full speech here:

‘Monkey this up’ flap a ‘nothingburger,’ says Ron DeSantis

Over a week after saying that electing Andrew Gillum governor would “monkey this up,” Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis is still defending his choice of words even on friendly media outlets.

Saturday saw the Congressman from Marineland on Fox News Channel with Neil Cavuto, when the longtime host asked DeSantis if he regretted using a turn of phrase characterized in many quarters as a racist “dogwhistle” comment.

“It’s a phony controversy,” DeSantis said, a distraction from Gillum’s proposal to raise corporate taxes from five to seven percent.

When asked if he would use the phrase again, DeSantis exclaimed “of course not! Of course not,” before lapsing back into a de facto defense of the phrasing.

“People are going to demagogue what you say,” DeSantis contended, adding that “the voters know this is a nothingburger … I’m not going to be derailed by these controversies.”

DeSantis appeared Saturday morning with his pick for Lt. Gov., Miami-Dade Rep. Jeannette Nunez.

Nunez has been compelled to walk back a tweet she put out ahead of the Florida primary that called President Donald Trump (DeSantis’ political patron) the “biggest con-man there is,” and though Cavuto didn’t post the tweet on screen, he did ask if Nunez was comfortable with Trump campaigning for the ticket.

“Absolutely,” Nunez said, citing the “continued progress” Trump has been able to bring to the United States.

“We’re going to do the same for Florida,” Nunez vowed.

The Republican ticket may need Trump both on the stump and on the fundraising circuit if the first week’s receipts are any indication.

In the week between the primary and Aug. 31, Gillum raised $4,027,927.15, compared to DeSantis’ $527,879.53.

Polls of the race thus far say it is too close to call.

Where will U.S. Senate, Governor candidates be this weekend?

The race for votes in November is on, but where in Florida will the candidates for statewide office look for them this weekend? Both the Democrats and Republicans have held their post-primary unity events, but every candidate will have to fight their own way into office in the end.

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, kicks off his “Make Washington Work” event with a Panhandle bus tour and the rollout of a 10-point plan to “reform the dysfunctional and tired ways of thinking in Washington and make it actually work for families across the nation.” The event kicks off in Northwest Florida, with a 2:45 p.m. rally at Capitan Anderson’s in Panama City. Expect stops in Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Space Coast, and Tampa Bay.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson plans to participate in the Osceola County Puerto Rican Parade on Sunday. The parade steps off at 11 a.m. in Downtown Kissimee. Then at 12:15 p.m., Mayor Jose Alvarez and other local officials will join Nelson for a special campaign announcement.

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, and new running mate Chris King will officially kick off their statewide campaign with a family-friendly event at the Orlando Downtown Recreation Center, where doors open at 11:30 a.m. and speakers grab the mic around 1 p.m.

The Florida Democratic Party announced that this weekend kicks off their “Winning Ticket” campaign with more than 100 events. Those events range from canvassings to voter registration drives, and seek to organize and rally the party in an election year when many Democrats feel fired about about sending a message to President Donald Trump.

Expect more events to be announced from all the candidates seeking office statewide, and for this page to be updated.

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