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Blake Dowling: It’s time for politics … and college football

As the glow of opening college football weekend wears off, and the tornado of Andrew Gillum versus Ron DeSantis begins, I read a very refreshing column this week from Skip Foster about non-biased reporting. Bottom line: If both sides of the coin are giving you heat, you must be playing it fair.

However, I did notice he did not mention Gillum’s opponent by name. Check it out, and thank you Skip for your insight.

Speaking of Gillum, there is a massive amount of “noise” (as they say in college football) surrounding his run for the Florida’s highest office. If you know Andrew personally, he is a nice guy. However, his incredible win could be overshadowed by the “noise” surrounding him if he is not careful.

There was more noise this week.

(Agent Whitesnake and lobbyist)

Speaking of “noise,” if you haven’t seen pics (or met) the FBI agents associated with most of this “noise,” who were rolling around North Florida, Vegas, and New York for over two years, hats off to Agent Whitesnake. This dude was way, way undercover.


In fact, we are still patiently waiting to see what exactly they uncovered.

One thing is for sure regardless of the FBI and Agent Whitesnake, there will be more college football this Saturday. The analogies and parallels between football, politics and business are always a spectacular topic. We need to “huddle up,” take a “timeout,” “coach up” the team, are just a sliver of the sports terms that we use in our professional lives.

Of course, there is also friendly banter among rivals when talk of football is afoot.

I saw a great tweet from Jimmy Patronis hazing Chris Dorworth over the epic Steve Spurrier Dos Equis ad that ran during the Nole collapse.

I had to weigh in with an old school Bobby Bowden Hardee’s clip comeback. Classic.

Nothing like friendly digital sparring with civilized sports fans. Jimmy must have enjoyed the Hardee’s clip as he liked the tweet.

Check out the 1986 gold here.

Does Hardee’s still even make the Big Deluxe? They lost me with their advertising somewhere in the past decade.

It’s Chick-fil-A fast foodies’ world, and they just let you live in it.

Anyway, opening football weekend in Florida held lots of surprises.

For all the Gators out there, calm down. You beat Charleston Southern. For Noles, start over … and Coach, you have to keep your head up in the postgame presser. That was sad.

And for THE U, it’s a long season, get back after it.

As for the parallels of football, it is certainly not limited to business and elections. Football can provide you with plenty of analogies for guidance in life. How to sacrifice. The importance of practice. Team work really does make the dream work. I love this quote from the Bear on that subject.

“If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.” — Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Elections this November (and the games this fall) will both have winners and losers, highs and lows. Just as in our careers and lives. I think the most important lesson we can take from football is when you have a setback, make sure to get back up and keep fighting. Vince said it best …

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” — Vince Lombardi.

That is all for today, if you made it this far, thank you for reading. Now go watch some football, your Saturday demands it.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and (slightly) enjoys college football and all things associated. He can be reached at

Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum has raised $4M since becoming Democratic nominee for Governor

In the first week since becoming the Democratic nominee for Governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum collected more than $4 million in contributions between his campaign and committee accounts.

Team Gillum raked in $4.03 million during the reporting period covering Aug. 25-31, including $1.7 million in hard money and another $2.3 million for his affiliated political committee, Forward Florida.

The Gillum for Governor campaign heads into the general election with unprecedented grassroots support,” said Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan.

This campaign is powered by people who are ready for bold, progressive change. Floridians know that as governor, Mayor Gillum will work tirelessly to rebuild our state so that it works for everyone — and that’s why they are rallying behind him.”

The new reports go down as the best for each account since Gillum entered the race for Governor in February of last year. The prior high watermark for his campaign account was his $510,000 report for the first week of August, while the committee former high score was $1 million raised during the 13-day reporting period directly preceding the Aug. 28 primary election.

The campaign report is nearly 40,000 lines long and matching funds didn’t buoy the total. There were several dozen max checks at the top of the ledger, but small-dollar donors dominated — the account received more than 27,000 contributions of $25 or less.

The committee report was a stub by comparison, but it featured a pair of $1 million checks at the top, one from the Democratic Governors Association and another from Connecticut philanthropist Donald Sussman. Floridabased philanthropist Marsha Laufer, the wife of Henry Laufer, chipped in $250,000, while smaller checks came in from attorney Vincent Pawlowski, Democratic donor Cynthia Friedman of Palm Beach, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California.

The $4 million week represents more than a third of Gillum’s $11.1 million in fundraising thus far. He finished the month with a combined $4.23 million banked.

Gillum’s Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, had a comparatively light week.

His campaign account showed $276,000 in new money across 2,443 contributions, including about two dozen for the campaign max of $3,000. His political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, posted a $246,000 haul. That report was topped by a $100,000 check from the Florida Chamber of Commerce affiliated Florida Jobs PAC, and also included $50,000 checks from billionaire Casino owner Phil Ruffin and Doral-based Sunshine Gasoline Distributors as well as $25,000 from a political committee tied to CD 1 U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

DeSantis has raised a total of $18.3 million since he launched his gubernatorial bid in January. He entered September with a combined $1.52 million in the bank.

Gillum and DeSantis will face off in the November general election. On Thursday, both men announced their running mates for the fall, with Gillum selecting businessman and former Democratic primary rival and Chris King and DeSantis selecting Miami state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Poll: Governor’s race tied, voters support marijuana

A new poll from St. Pete Polls is finding Florida’s governor’s race in nearly a tie, with Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum just slightly ahead, and also finding that Florida voters lean toward supporting more legalization of marijuana and consider that issue in their position on the governor’s race.

The poll is part of an effort involving the St. Pete Polls, Empowering Wellness — the newly formed medical-marijuana advocacy group — and Florida Politics to examine marijuana policies and politcal leaders and candidates’ positions heading into Wellness Week, which will feature other looks at the issues.

First the governor’s election: The survey conducted Wednesday and Thursday of 2,240 likely Florida general election voters found Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, with 47.6 percent support, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee, with 47.3 percent.

Voters lean toward more full legalization, according to the poll: 49.3 percent said they support full legalaization of marijuana, while 42.3 percent said they oppose. That is not enough support to get a Florida Constitution amendment passed, which requires 60 percent approval, but may signal to lawmakers and state leaders that Florida’s populous is growing more supportive.

The support was fueled by both Democrats and independents: 62 percent of Democrats  and 54 percent of independent voters support full legalization, while just 34 percent of Republicans do so.

As for Florida’s existing medical cannabis law, approved by voters in 2016 but still not fully implemented, 73.8 percent of those surveyed said they support it, and 20.8 percent oppose.

For the governor’s race, 29.8 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to support a gubernatorial candidate who supported marijuana legalization; 25.1 percent said they would be less likely; and 45 percent said it would make no difference.

The poll was conducted through an automated phone call polling system. The results were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active general election voter population for the state of Florida. The weighting demographics used were: political party, race, age, gender and media market. The voters polled were chosen at random within the registered voter population within the state of Florida. Voters who said they were not planning to vote were excluded from the results below.

St. Pete Polls is saying the survey has a 2.1 percent margin of error.


Email insights: RGA says Andrew Gillum ‘too radical for Florida’

A Thursday email sent out by the Republican Governors Association slammed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum as “too radical for Florida” based on comments he made regarding recent violence in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

“In a recent podcast interview, Gillum ‘condemn[ed]’ Israel for ‘murder’ for acting in self-defense against Hamas terrorist operatives attempting to ‘breach into Israel’s borders,’ while throwing ‘rocks and Molotov cocktails,’” the RGA email said. “According to a senior Hamas official, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed were members of the terrorist group Hamas.”

The comments were related to a May protest that saw Israeli troops fire on about 35,000 Palestinians protesting the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, killing 60. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley lauded Israel’s “restraint” in responding to the protesters, though a number of world leaders expressed concern or outright condemned the Israeli government’s actions.

The RGA email also Orlando area businessman Chris King, who Gillum named as his running mate Thursday morning, over past comments he made that some have deemed to be anti-Semitic.

Those accusations of anti-Semitism relate to a quote attributed to King after he lost a contentious 1998 election to be Harvard’s Undergraduate Student Council president. The campus newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, had editorialized against King’s candidacy in part because he was well-known as an evangelical Christian.

“I was nailed to the cross,” King said at the time. “And most of the editorial staff that was so hard on me, the vast majority were Jewish.”

King told Florida Politics in June that he does not specifically recall making that statement but did not dispute it. He apologized for it and disavowed any anti-Semitic overtones as not of his beliefs.

“This quote from when I was 20 years old is completely at odds with my beliefs. It was a hurtful and stupid comment and I apologize,” King said in June.

Additionally, the reporter who quoted King in the 1998 story, Jonathan Tilove, told Florida Politics he did not interpret the statement as anti-Semitic. Tilove, now a political reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, is Jewish.

Still, the RGA said those statements by Gillum and King make the duo “too radical for Florida.”

“Gillum’s condemnation of Israel and King’s past comments prove their campaign is one of the most radical in the nation and raises serious questions about the direction of their campaign,” the RGA email concluded.

Gillum and King are facing off against Republican nominee Ron DeSantis, who on Thursday named Miami state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez as his running mate. The general election is Nov. 6.

Republicans: This election is stark choice of capitalism versus radicalism

Led by blistering attacks from Gov. Rick Scott, Republican candidates kicked off their unity rally in Orlando Thursday morning declaring that this year’s election offers stark choices that boil down to capitalism versus socialism.

Scott, the nominee for U.S. Senate; gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis; the rest of Florida’s cabinet; and the rest of the Republican Party’s nominees for the cabinet took turns Friday attacking Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and other Democrats as radical, bent on destroying Florida’s economy and the state.

“When I was in the private sector I recalled many times that it seemed like the two political parties didn’t have very different choices. That’s not the case here in Florida today,” Scott said. “This election offers voters the starkest choice possible for the direction and the future of our state and the country. The Democratic ticket of Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum offering a very clear, a very liberal, a very radical and a very risky direction.”

“I am the capitalist candidate for Governor for the state of Florida,” DeSantis later declared.

The event oozed unity after primary battles that left some Republicans broken and broken-hearted. On Thursday, Attorney General nominee Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner nominee Matt Caldwell, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Pam Bondi all called for Republican voters to support GOP candidates.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and DeSantis shared a warm handshake and a call to “rally behind our values as Republicans.”

There were, however, a couple of key Republican leaders conspicuous by their absences. The first was Republican Party of Florida Chair Blaise Ingoglia, who continued his refusal to share a dais with Scott.

The other was President Donald Trump, who, in an hour of speeches, was mentioned only once, only in passing, and not by DeSantis, his pick in Florida, nor by Scott, who seeks to join him in Washington and had previously boasted of having a close relationship with him.

Scott and others planned to join Vice President Mike Pence at private events later on Thursday, but Pence was not scheduled to join the Florida Republican unity rally.

The theme was to build on the records of Scott, Bondi, Putnam, and Caldwell, pushing for lower taxes, deregulation, and tougher law enforcement, which was largely defined as enforcement of immigration laws. Much was made of Florida’s economy, job growth, lower taxes, and lower unemployment. Scott also defended his records on education and the environment, which have been sharply targeted by Democrats.

“I think the appropriate course of action is to see what has worked here, build off of that, and enjoy even more success,” DeSantis said. “My opponent, Andrew Gillum, would really want to stop that and reverse all the progress we’ve made.

“If you want to bring more investment to Florida, you probably don’t want to campaign on the biggest tax increase in Florida’s history,” DeSantis said.

From there, DeSantis and Scott charged Gillum with socialist ideas, particularly involving health care, and warnings that would strip private health care plans away from Floridians, bankrupt the state, and send Florida tax money to states like California and New York.

DeSantis also accused Gillum of “radicalism” in calling for the abolishment and replacement of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and in his statements regarding Israel. DeSantis called him anti-Israel for opposing the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something DeSantis helped champion in Congress.

“I think he believes Jerusalem should be divided,” DeSantis charged. “He criticizes Israel, he said they were committing murder when they were defending themselves against Hamas terrorists who were overrunning the border on the Gaza Strip. That is not representative of Florida values. I’ve always stood by Israel. I will be the most pro-Israel governor in the country.”

Scott, too, attacked Gillum and explicitly charged him with preaching socialism. His attacks on his own opponent, Nelson, was more often by association with Gillum and the Democrats, though he did take a very personal shot at the incumbent U.S. Senator.

“If you grew up wealthy like Bill Nelson, it’s all theory, it’s just about numbers,” Scott said of people struggling to make ends meet. “I grew up poor.”

Playing to progressives & young voters, Andrew Gillum taps Chris King as running mate

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum on Thursday chose a rival from the primary, Winter Park businessman Chris King, as his Lieutenant Governor.

Gillum and King bonded on the campaign trail to the degree that they mulled a joint ticket when each campaign appeared to lack traction.

Now, of course, Gillum has the nomination — and the joint ticket is a reality.

Gillum had an array of candidates to consider, including state Rep. Amy Mercado (who would have had Central Florida and Puerto Rican appeal), Gwen Graham (who garnered 31 percent of the vote in the primary, with appeal in rural areas especially), and state Sen. Lauren Book (minority-leader pro tempore of the party).

Yet Gillum has chosen a candidate who, though he never caught fire with Democrats looking at the top of the ticket, ran an ideas-driven campaign that moved the conversation forward on issues key both to progressives and young voters.

Clearly, the Gillum campaign bets that the race to win the governorship can be won by consolidating the party’s left flank.

Democrats, including at least one who was in the LG discussion, lauded the pick.

“It’s hard to imagine the 2018 ticket getting any better for Florida Democrats, but it just did. With Chris King as his running mate, Andrew Gillum is shaking up this race and giving voters something to believe in. Best gubernatorial ticket I’ve seen in my lifetime,” asserted Rep. Carlos G. Smith Thursday after the pick was reported.

CFO candidate Jeremy Ring likewise lauded the King pick: “Over the course of this last year I’ve gotten to know Chris King well and it’s no surprise to me why soon to be Governor Andrew Gillum wanted him to be part of this ticket. From bringing fresh leadership and innovative ideas throughout this campaign to his work to build a better Florida for everyone as an entrepreneur, Chris is exactly the type of person Tallahassee needs and will be the Lieutenant Governor Floridians deserve.”

Even before Gillum rolled out the King pick via Facebook Live, the campaign website was already live as of 9:20 a.m. Thursday, complete with an aspirational message.

“Join Andrew Gillum and Chris King today,” the page states. “This is a movement for Florida’s future.”

Gillum noted that he had “prayed about” the Lieutenant Governor pick, and “leaned into wanting to choose an individual who could be governor … a partner to help lead this state.”

Gillum and King, along with their wives, addressed Democrats, with Mrs. King and Mrs. Gillum vowing to hit the trail together to make the case for the Democratic ticket. What is clear: the families will be co-branded through the election.

“This is not a political marriage, a marriage of convenience,” Chris King said, noting that he cares for Gillum, a “champion” for working families across the state.

From gun violence to criminal justice, King said, he and Gillum believe that the state can do “better.”

“My heart is really full,” Mayor Gillum said. “This race is about where we want to go as a state.”

Statements after the Facebook Live wrapped reinforced the symbiosis. Gillum lauded King for “new and dynamic leadership … innovative policy ideas and business acumen.” And King vowed the ticket would “stand up to the divisive politics of Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump … offer Floridians a new vision that lifts people up, brings us all together and unites this state.”

Though few forecast a Gillum/King ticket when both were polling in single digits throughout much of the primary slog, Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo spoke to the new consensus.

“Gillum and Chris King represent the future [of] our state: energetic, innovative, and ready to fight for Florida’s working families,” Rizzo noted.

Beyond ideological alignment, there are practical considerations regarding loyalty between the two men.

King was one of Gillum’s biggest defenders during the primary, coming to his defense during one of the Democratic debates when the FBI probe into Tallahassee City Hall. Gillum has maintained throughout his candidacy that he is not a target of the investigation and that the city government itself is not under investigation, just an “individual.”

DeSantis, the Republican nominee, picked Rep. Jeanette Nuñez as his running mate Thursday. Minutes after she was picked, reporters unearthed a “#NeverTrump” tweet of hers from 2016.

Nuñez’s relative fealty to Trump notwithstanding, Democratic chair Rizzo notes the stark difference between the two LG picks.

“The contrast between the Gillum-King and DeSantis-Nuñez ticket could not be greater. Chris King is a progressive entrepreneur with innovative policy ideas to move us forward — while Jeanette Nuñez is a long-time Republican insider and lobbyist,” Rizzo said, citing differences on abortion rights and Medicaid expansion between the two.

One reason Gwen Graham isn’t Democratic LG pick: She wasn’t asked

If you’re wondering why Gwen Graham isn’t Andrew Gillum‘s choice to run with him as Lieutenant Governor … well, you’ll have to ask him.

He never called to ask her if she was interested.

Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor who won the Democratic primary for Governor last month, never reached out to Graham directly or through back channels, according to two sources close to Graham.

He instead announced Winter Park businessman Chris King as his LG during a Facebook Live appearance Thursday. King was one of Gillum’s competitors for the Governor spot.

“Gwen was never contacted by the nominee regarding LG (even as a courtesy) and always has put the State over her own personal interests,” this source said. “She would have served and served well if called upon to do so.”

But she wasn’t, adding a bit more fuel to the fire that despite the public show of détente by all the parties, there’s still a reservoir of bad blood separating the two camps.

A senior staffer on the Graham campaign confirmed that “Gillum never even reached out to talk to her about it.”

Moreover, “no one from their campaign has called or approached any of us to help in any way,” that person added.

That suggests she won’t have to mull whether she wants to be part of the Gillum administration because he has no intention to offer her a place if he’s elected.

Orange County Republicans call for Kathy Gibson to resign RPOF post

The Orange County Republican Executive Committee called Wednesday for Kathy Gibson to resign as the county’s state committeewoman to the Republican Party of Florida.

The Republican panel made that decision Wednesday afternoon shortly after Republican congressional candidates Wayne Liebnitzky and Mike Miller made similar demands, joining gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis in calling for Gibson to step aside.

The calls for her immediate resignation developed from outrage over a social media meme that appeared under Gibson’s Facebook account, falsely claiming that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was going to make Florida pay for its part in slavery. The meme, widely denounced as racist, appeared Monday night, and has since been deleted. Gov. Rick Scott also condemned any statements that would seek to “divide the people of Florida by race or ethnicity,” though he stopped short of calling for Gibson’s resignation.

She later claimed, in another Facebook post, that it was not hers and that her account had been hacked.

Republicans apparently are not buying that.

The controversy grew Wednesday in advance of the big Republican unity rally that Orange County is set to host Thursday.

It is to feature Scott, DeSantis, Liebnitzky, Miller, and almost all other top Republican statewide and Central Florida candidates and officials. It is supposed to be the Republicans’ big celebration and kickoff to a 2018 election campaign.
In addition, Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Orange County Thursday for a fundraiser, but apparently is not arriving in time to attend the rally.

“We need people with a moral compass,” Liebnitzky said after calling for Gibson to resign.

“Kathy Gibson’s insensitive comments on Facebook have no place in politics. She should resign immediately,” Miller, a state representative from Orange County, said in a news release.

Earlier, both DeSantis, the congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, and Scott denounced the post. In a statement to POLITICO, DeSantis called the thinking behind the meme “disgusting” and called for her to resign.

Orange County Republican Chair Charles Hart said Wednesday afternoon the county party’s board called for her resignation.

Gibson could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

However, on her Facebook page, around midnight going into Wednesday Gibson wrote, “To All Family & Friends Please be Advised that my Facebook Page was Hacked today. All Passwords & Codes have been Changed. If you saw anything today that didn’t sound like me, please let me Thank You.”

The response comments on that post were mostly not sympathetic. “Nice try,” one person commented. “God shall not be mocked. He knows you posted untrue information and are now lying about it,” wrote another. “Grow up and own it,” said a third. Others used foul language to say the same things.

If Gibson resigns, she would be the second state official to the Republican Party of Florida from Orange County to resign this summer. Earlier, State Committeeman Paul Paulson resigned over scandalous reports involving a fraudulent charity he was running. He was replaced by Rich Crotty.

Gibson is an elected official, so she would have to submit a resignation to RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. However, the Orange County Executive Committee would have to select a replacement, as it did in Paulson’s situation.

Ron DeSantis camp hammers Andrew Gillum for hiding truth about NYC, Costa Rica trips

On Tuesday evening, the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum urged Republican rival Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump to “stop demonizing the FBI,” regarding its “probe into Russian electoral collusion and interference.”

“Congressman DeSantis and President Trump should allow the agency to do its work,” Gillum said.

“Here in Florida, we’ve done everything we can to aid the agency, while Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump have done the exact opposite — demonizing the FBI and making the case that collusion is not a crime,” Gillum added.

Gillum, who spent much of last weekend addressing the FBI investigation in Tallahassee, looked to quell that perpetually bubbling controversy as Tuesday ended with what was intended to be a story-wrapping media release.

However, the DeSantis campaign believes the story is only just beginning.

“It becomes clearer by the day why the FBI is interested in Andrew Gillum and his associates. These receipts do nothing to shed light on his luxury trips to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents. In fact, they simply raise more questions about Gillum’s ongoing involvement. The people of Florida deserve answers, and Andrew Gillum keeps refusing to provide them,” spokesman Stephen Lawson said Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday morning, the DeSantis camp continued to press its position on an “incomplete” release of data.

“Gillum’s campaign released partial receipt documentation from his trips to Costa Rica and New York City with lobbyists and undercover FBI agents. This comes after weeks of Gillum promising to release them, and amidst an ongoing ethics investigation into the trips by the state commission on ethics,” the campaign contended.

The Mayor released long-promised receipts and calendars from personal trips to New York City and Costa Rica, along with what the campaign calls “unprecedented email and searchable calendars released previously this year to news media and the public.”

The receipts are not all-encompassing. The DeSantis campaign points out omissions.

Regarding the New York City trip, airfare is not receipted. Likewise omitted: proof of payment for a ticket to “Hamilton” (which Gillum claims to have gotten from his brother), a ticket for a Statue of Liberty boat ride (“organized and attended by undercover FBI agents”, per DeSantis’ camp), receipts for trip expenditures, and proof of payment for the hotel.

Regarding the Costa Rica jaunt, there is no proof of purchase for Gillum’s plane ticket, nor is there a breakdown of how much “cash” Gillum paid for his part of the trip.

“His receipt simply shows a $400 cash withdrawal, but this raises even more questions. If he actually paid his and his wife’s fair share of the trip, it would be more than $400,” the campaign notes, adding that “Adam Corey’s lawyer has since refuted even this premise by saying ‘to date Mr. Corey has not received any cash from the mayor.'”

The Gillum campaign contends that Gillum is not a “subject” of the FBI investigation, and frames the Mayor’s involvement as peripheral.

Regarding dealings with subpoenaed friend and lobbyist Adam Corey, the campaign allows that Gillum found out after the fact that his brother Marcus scored a Hamilton ticket from Corey, and that “per normal procedure, Corey sent Gillum an official calendar invitation for a meeting in Tallahassee on May 16, 2016. Gillum agreed to the meeting in order to discuss City business.”

For the DeSantis camp, buffeted for a week with criticism after the candidate said electing Gillum would “monkey” up the progress the state has made in the Rick Scott era, Gillum’s inconsistencies on this issue feel like a winning campaign issue.

“When it comes to Andrew Gillum’s Tallahassee dealings, his dizzying web of deception is quickly entangling his bid for Governor. The voters of Florida — and the FBI — are catching on quickly, and it won’t be long before Gillum is simply forced to answer,” the DeSantis campaign asserts.

Quinnipiac poll: Andrew Gillum starts with 3-point lead over Ron DeSantis

Democrat Andrew Gillum is opening the fall Florida Governor’s race with the leanest of leads over Republican Ron DeSantis, according to a new poll released Tuesday from Quinnipiac University.

The poll, the first Quinnipiac has conducted since last Tuesday’s primary, reflects the results of last week’s Public Policy Polling survey: Gillum has an edge built from Florida’s independent voters as partisan voters cling tightly to their nominees.

In the new poll, Gillum drew 50 percent and DeSantis 47 percent, with only 3 percent of voters saying they don’t know or are undecided at this point. The difference is within the margin of error but also marks the second time in two polls this past week in which Gillum, the surprise, upset winner of the Democratic primary, has come out on top versus the longtime Republican favorite.

The remarkably small group of undecided voters nine weeks out was further backed up by a Quinnipiac question that found that very few voters think there is any chance they’ll change their minds between now and the Nov. 6 Election Day.

“Mayor Andrew Gillum came out of his upset victory in the Florida Democratic primary with a head of steam,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, stated in a news release.

“Neither man was well-known before their primaries, but since then the race has become a center of political attention in the state,” Brown continued. “Now, 97 of 100 voters say they will vote for one of the two men, a highly unusual situation this far from the actual voting. Just as unusual, more than 90 percent of Gillum and DeSantis voters say they will not change their minds and are dead set in supporting the candidate they now favor.”

The poll was conducted last Thursday through Monday of 785 Florida likely voters with live interviews over both landline and cell phones. The margin of error is 4.3 percent, according to Quinnipiac.

Gillum received a “favorable” rating from 46 percent of those surveyed, and an “unfavorable” rating from 33 percent. DeSantis was seen favorable by 45 percent and unfavorable by 43 percent.

Gillum is overwhelmingly carrying Democratic voters, with 93 percent supporting him. Likewise for DeSantis with 92 percent of Republican voters backing him. The difference comes from independent voters leaning toward Gillum, by a spread of 55 percent to 42 percent.

Quinnipiac University Poll is reporting that it found little “Trump effect”: 22 percent of voters said their decision in the race will be more to express support for the president and 24 percent say their vote for governor will be more to express opposition. But 51 percent said Trump is not an important factor in the governor’s race.

At the same time, 47 percent of those surveyed said they approved of Trump’s job performance, while 51 percent disapproved.

The economy was cited as the most important issue by those polled, topping the list at 23 percent. Immigration and health care followed, each cited by 14 percent; gun policy, 13 percent, environment, 12 percent; and education, 10 percent.

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