Andrew Gillum – Page 5 – Florida Politics

Andrew Gillum rallies Duval Democrats with familiar themes

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum addressed a crowd of Jacksonville Democrats Monday evening, his second Northeast Florida foray in three days.

Gillum is no stranger to the region; in fact, he was campaigning here even in his pre-candidate phase.

Though Gillum’s remarks were familiar to those who have heard his stump speech, they were welcome expressions for Democrats in a county where the party message is often subverted by the Republican machine.

Gillum worked a call and response intro, around the Dems’ signature “BLU-VALL” phrase, before extolling the activism and work necessary to “flip the county all the way blue.”

“There are more of us than there are of them,” Gillum said, launching into his standard themes, including a defense of public education and health care equity.

“We have to ask ourselves why it is that we can’t win statewide elections. I have a small theory,” Gillum said, which involves “running as Democrats” — and doing it statewide.

“We can go to all those places and explain our message loud and clear,” Gillum said, extolling the opportunity “all across our state.”

“We’re not going to do it by being afraid of our own shadow … afraid of being Democrats … I believe in fighting for what we believe in. Whether it is early childhood education,” Gillum said, or “46 percent of people not being able to make ends meet at the end of the month.”

“In Rick Scott’s Florida, we have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, so he’d better be the jobs governor,” Gillum quipped — not for the first time.

Re-enfranchisement of former felons: another theme, emphasized by Gillum because of the closeness of the elections in recent years.

“Y’all need to say this with me, ‘that’s a shame,” Gillum said.

And lo, the crowd responded.

“If you’re not at the table, you’re what?” Gillum asked.

“On the menu,” the voices cried.

With Gillum getting nationwide attention and fundraising help, including a California fundraiser over the weekend, the real test will be whether he can get the resources he needs to combat Gwen Graham‘s name ID and establishment support and Philip Levine‘s bottomless resources.

That’s been the question for a year. And will be the question through August, as he — like the other major candidates — takes his campaign well beyond Democratic strongholds.

Andrew Gillum talks importance of ‘allyship’ with black women in St. Augustine

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for Governor, spoke in St. Augustine Saturday about the importance of the vote of black women — and the importance of “allyship.”

Engaged turnout among black women was seen as a contributing factor to the Democrats taking a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama last year; to that end, Gillum and other Democrats believe that the model can be replicated even in a campaign not involving Roy Moore as the GOP standard bearer.

Gillum, who just got back to Florida after a red-eye flight from a California fundraiser, noted that while black women are the pillar of the black community, they “can’t save this Republic alone.”

The full power of the Democratic Party must back them, Gillum said.

Gillum extolled education as a way out of “intergenerational poverty,” describing how even guidance counselors and lunch room ladies “stood in the gap on behalf of many of us,” helping to “build strong communities.”

Gillum noted that his mother was “doing things to ensure we got by,” a reality that sometimes precluded thinking about big picture political concepts.

The lines elicited applause.

Gillum’s remarks kicking off a panel moderated by Congressional District 5 candidate Rontel Batie and House District 13 Democratic hopeful Roshanda Jackson were brief, but crowdpleasing.

Gillum noted, per women’s issues, it’s “important to be a good ally as a man,” especially given the “me too” moment.

“We have sat quietly and sometimes complictly in certain rooms,” said Gillum, “and we need to be good allies” on issues like “equal pay for equal work.”

“When you’re in positions where you’re hiring and determining certain salary levels,” said Gillum, it’s important to provide “allyship.”

“We have to expand our own definitions of allyship,” Gillum said. “It’s not enough to sit in the cheap seats. We also have to get in the field, get in the fight. If we’re in this thing and we’ve got each other’s backs, we need to speak up even when it doesn’t directly affect us.”

Gillum also extolled Medicaid expansion, noting that many “hard working people don’t earn enough to meet what their medical needs are.”

“How to make sure that health care is not treated as a privilege, but a right,” Gillum said, as an example of the “radical change that is necessary.”

An economic agenda must address the specific needs regarding black and women owned business, including equities in lending, contracting, and so on.

“The $88 million budget that was just passed … how much is spent on [these] businesses,” Gillum said, offering them “the opportunity to compete.”

Accountability from public officials, said Gillum, is key.

“When we demand more … they know people are not going to be satisfied with the status quo,” Gillum said, describing the “Malcolm/Martin analogy” — which was to say that if people in a previous era didn’t deal with Martin Luther King Jr., there were “other forces out there.”

Gillum took questions from the audience also, including one about the West Virginia teachers strike, in which he noted that Florida, as a “right to work” state has structural disadvantages for strikers; however, “teachers need to be paid what they are worth,” especially given that Florida teachers are in the bottom of the ranks of national pay.

“We have the nerve to call our teachers evil and say our kids attend ‘failure factories’ off the conditions our lawmakers have created,” Gillum said, describing an overextended group of professionals hamstrung by legislative mandates.

Gillum would like to see a starting salary of $50,000 for teachers.

“I’d like to create the condition where our teachers aren’t walking out, they’re walking on … we need to pay them what they’re worth,” Gillum said, speaking against the for-profit model as well as constant high-stakes testing.

Gillum will address another Northeast Florida crowd Monday, at the monthly general meeting of the Duval County Democrats.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates slam Rick Scott for education budget

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gwen GrahamAndrew GillumPhilip Levine, and Chris King took aim at Florida Gov. Rick Scott Friday afternoon, charging that the state budget he signed fails to adequately fund public education, with Graham declaring, “This will be the last budget… that underfunds Florida’s students.”

“Rick Scott’s education budget includes a measly 47-cent increase for education — it fails to even cover the rate of inflation,” Graham, the former congresswoman from Tallahassee, declared in a statement issue by her gubernatorial campaign Friday. “The governor is so out of touch with Florida families he may actually think that’s enough to fund our schools, but 47 cents won’t even buy Rick Scott a gum ball.

On Friday Scott signed the 2018-’19 state budget with $88.7 billion in spending, and also vetoed $64 million worth of line items. Scott’s office maintains the budget offers a record amount of spending on public schools, but Graham contends it falls far short of what is needed. Earlier, Graham had called for Scott to veto the budget, call the Florida Legislature back to a special session, and demand more money for public schools.

“When Rick Scott leaves the Governor’s Mansion this year, he’ll leave behind a legacy of cutting and underfunding public schools in Florida. This hasn’t just hurt our students — it hurts our economy and the entire state,” she continued. “Budgets, whether they’re made over a kitchen table or in the Capitol, are about priorities. For 20 years, the Republican politicians in Tallahassee have failed to make public education a priority, and, in 2018, voters will hold them accountable for their failures.”

She added this pledge: “As governor, I will pick apart the Republicans’ budget piece by piece to eliminate their wasteful spending and use those tax dollars where families will benefit — in our schools. Mark my words. This will be the last budget for next eight years that underfunds Florida’s students and schools.”

Gillum’s response took a similar tact he posted on Twitter Friday afternoon.

“A failure to properly fund our students education & not just a response to Parkland, is no surprise from @FLGovScott. Teachers & schools do some of the most important work on Earth: educating our kids. This budget falls well short of what our students need to learn and be safe,” Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, tweeted.

 Levine, a businessman and former mayor of Miami Beach, also ripped into Scott over the schools spending, and also criticized the state’s spending for health care.

“Governor Rick Scott is ending his tenure as Governor the same way he started it––short-changing our schools, our teachers and our students,” Levine said in a statement issued by his campaign. As governor, I would never sign this out-of-touch budget. This budget does nothing to improve our state’s back-of-the-pack status in teacher pay, and continues to leave too many Floridians without access to health care. We need leaders that will invest in our education and healthcare, not leave them with pennies on the dollar.”

King, a Winter Park developer of affordable housing and senior housing, noted that any budget is a statement of priorities.

“Rick Scott’s [priorities] are dead wrong,” King said. “Our students and teachers deserve better than a paltry 47-cent increase, but nothing will change in Tallahassee until we change the types of leaders we send there.”

The leading Republican candidates are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam.

Andrew Gillum plans Saturday St. Augustine swing

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a 2018 candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor, will visit St. Augustine Saturday.

Gillum will participate in a discussion on the power of the vote of black women in the morning, and will follow that up with a walking tour of civil rights monuments and sites early in the afternoon.

The panel discussion will start at 11:00 a.m. at St. Paul’s AME Church in historic Lincolnville.

The walking tour will start at 12:30 at the Lightner Museum.

After these events, Gillum will stay in St. Johns County. Saturday afternoon sees the candidate at a fundraiser in Ponte Vedra.

The event will run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at the home of Erica & Colin Connor in Ponte Vedra Beach.

A minimum $50 buy-in is requested to attend.

Gillum will also make his pitch to Duval County Democrats on Monday evening at the party’s general meeting.

All four Democratic gubernatorial candidates commit to Tampa debate

The Tampa debate is on for all four major Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

The campaigns for Andrew Gillum and Philip Levine joined those of Chris King and Gwen Graham Thursday in announcing they have committed to a debate being planned in Tampa on April 18.

After Gillum challenged his rivals to agree to a series of debates Thursday, in quick succession King’s and Graham’s campaigns, and then Gillum’s and Levine’s all announced they have committed to one at WTVT-TV, the Fox affiliate in Tampa.

Gillum’s campaign said they were the first to pledge to that debate but kept quiet about it, waiting for the station to firm everything up and announce.

“We’re pleased two of the other campaigns [King and Graham] have agreed to debate on stage there, and we look forward to adding more debates. Democrats deserve to hear from all of the campaigns all over the state,” said Gillum’s Campaign Communications Director Geoff Burgan.

Around the same time he was issuing that statement, Levine’s campaign also announced his commitment.

“Mayor Levine looks forward to participating in the April 18th debate in the Tampa Bay area, and share his vision for Florida, coupled with his record of progressive accomplishments as a successful two-term Mayor,” said his consultant Christian Ulvert.

The station has not announced any details about time or format.

Andrew Gillum issues debate challenge; Chris King, Gwen Graham say they’ve confirmed

Is a debate between Democratic gubernatorial candidates at a Tampa TV station on April 18 in the works? The campaigns for Chris King and Gwen Graham say yes, while the campaign for Andrew Gillum, who’s been challenging his rivals to debates, and the campaign for Philip Levine are mum.

On Thursday afternoon, Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, renewed his call for a series of debates between Democratic gubernatorial candidates. King’s campaign quickly responded by not only saying he agrees with the call for debates, but that he has committed to one on April 18 in Tampa.

Graham’s campaign then confirmed that she, too, has agreed to a proposed debate at WTVT-TV, the Fox affiliate in Tampa.

Since those responses raising the prospect of the Tampa debate came in, there has been no reaction from Gillum’s campaign, nor any response from the campaign of Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor.

Officials at WTVT-TV were not immediately available Wednesday to confirm their plans, or those of any candidates.

“Last October, we challenged our fellow Democratic campaigns to at least six debates in red and blue counties across our state. We are now less than six months from primary election day, but unfortunately we’ve been met with silence,” Gillum’s campaign Communications Director Geoff Burgan said in a news release. “As the policy differences between the candidates have become clear recently, we know it’s time to take this discussion directly to voters. Floridians deserve to know where we stand on expanding health care to every Floridian, transforming the economy for working people, consistently fighting for gun safety, standing up for public schools, and protecting our environment. We hope our fellow candidates will stop avoiding these debates and give our voters a chance to kick the tires.”

We’re in, responded King’s campaign spokesman Avery Jaffe.

“Our campaign has already accepted a televised debate invitation from WTVT-TV in Tampa and we hope the other candidates will join Chris at their studios on April 18,” Jaffe said in a written response issued by King’s campaign.

When advised of King’s campaign statement, Graham’s campaign said that she also has agreed to be in the WTVT-TV debate, and that she has received a confirmation from the station.

In the statement released by his campaign, King said, “Voters deserve to hear where the candidates stand and I’m ready to offer Floridians my vision for new leadership and fresh ideas. If Florida Democrats want to win, we should face the voters and offer them real solutions in a debate, not stale talking points. We must compete in every corner of our state and take no one for granted, and that means making sure Spanish-language, African American, Haitian, Caribbean, LGBT and other diverse media outlets are included in these debates.”

Philip Levine announces Ed Rendell’s endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine has picked up an endorsement from Pennsylvania’s former governor Ed Rendell.

Rendell served as general chair of the Democratic National Committee during the last two years of the Clinton administration. He served two terms as Pennsylvania’s governor after that, and two terms as mayor of Philadelphia before his DNC post.

Levine is a former mayor of Miami Beach.

“I am proud to support Mayor Philip Levine to be the next governor of Florida,” Rendell said in a news release issued by Levine’s campaign. “As a former two-term mayor myself, I am happy to stand behind another mayor with a strong record of success, who has done the right thing for his community by taking bold action on climate change, raising the minimum wage, and fighting for the values that improve the lives of residents. During my time as governor, I realized I was incredibly well prepared for the challenges I would face because of my service as a two term mayor. As the former chair of the DNC, I also know what it takes to win tough races. Philip has everything it takes to win the Governor’s mansion after over 20 years of one-party rule and bring Florida Democrats together with a bold progressive vision for the future.”

Levine is battling with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and Winter Park businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. The leading Republican candidates are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“Ed is a good friend, an incredible mayor, and an accomplished governor in his own right,” Levine said in the release. “Our campaign continues to grow its support because Floridians know we will shake up Tallahassee and focus on getting things done. As governor, I’m committed to move Florida forward as a leader in the 21st century economy by investing in our public schools, our environment, our healthcare, and fighting for the real needs of Floridians.”

Just when you think Andrew Gillum is having a good day …

On Tuesday, Florida Politics reported that Hollywood stars Alec Baldwin and Alyssa Milano are headlining a California fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.

Tallahassee’s mayor is one of three candidates raising money at the Thursday reception; Stacey Abrams of Georgia and David Garcia of Arizona are joining the event, which will also benefit Gillum’s associated PAC, Forward Florida.

For Gillum’s cash-starved campaign, its excellent news that Baldwin, Milano and Co. are raising money for him at the Santa Monica home of entertainment industry lawyer Skip Brittenham and his wife, actress and author Heather Thomas.

Yet, just when you think Gillum is having a good day, he goes and “Gillums” himself again.

Look closely at the fundraising invitation his campaign shared in advance of the event:

What don’t you see?

That’s right; there’s no disclaimer on the invite. There’s no “paid political blah blah blah” anywhere to be found.

Is this a big deal? Normally, it wouldn’t be, but Gillum — from the very day he launched the campaign — has revealed a weakness for not being able to dot the I’s and cross the T’s.

This invitation is just another indication of Gillum’s sloppy campaign. And it reinforces the worst impressions some folks have of the candidate.

Florida Politics reached out to Gillum’s campaign for an explanation. Spokesman Geoff Burgan said “both PFAW (People for the American Way) attorneys and Stearns Weaver attorneys who represent our campaign have approved the invite. We’re confident the invite is within bounds.”

Nancy Watkins, one of the nation’s foremost experts on campaign finance regulations, disagrees with the assessment of Gillum’s attorneys.

“His campaign and committee are subject to Florida campaign finance law which has specific requirements for disclaimers,” said Watkins, who was asked by Florida Politics to review the invitation. “The invitation presented does not even approach the Florida requirements for Andrew Gillum Campaign nor Forward Florida.”

That’s only the beginning of the problems Watkins has with the Gillum invite.

“It appears they are soliciting contributions through a conduit, People for the American Way,” Watkins said, noting that the invite asks donors to contribute via ActBlue. “PFAW may not act as a conduit for contributions to a Florida candidate or committee. No one can.”

In making her case, Watkins cites FS 106.08(5)(a), which reads, ”A person may not make any contribution through or in the name of another, directly or indirectly, in any election.”

She also said the Division of Elections has issued opinions (D10-11 and DE08-03) regarding conduits, specifically Act Blue.

***Update***After Watkins’ opinion was added to this story, Glenn Burhans, an attorney with Stearns Weaver, emailed this statement:

“The assertion that the campaign has violated Florida election law is based on errors of fact and law. The invitation, which was emailed by PFAW to a select group of its members at no cost does not meet the definition of a “political advertisement” and does not require a disclaimer. Similarly, it does not meet the definition of any other form of communication requiring a disclaimer. Neither PFAW nor Act Blue are acting as an improper conduit. When clicking on the link to donate, the donor specifies the recipient of the donation, i.e., a candidate’s campaign or political committee. In short, such contributions are not made in the name of another as asserted in the article. The statute and advisory opinions cited simply do not apply here.”

Don’t you just love a food fight over Florida campaign finance law?

A couple of cracks in the Gwen Graham facade

Take a good look at the picture below of Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham participating in her latest “workday.”

On Tuesday, the former U.S. Representative was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in Immokalee. Graham spent a shift helping out at an early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of migrant families.

Of note: Bob Graham performed a workday with the RCMA as Governor in 1983.

What you see in the picture (and the other five or six that Graham’s campaign sent to me) is the very essence of compassion and empathy. It’s Clintonian “I feel your pain.”

I see a mother who knows the value of being patient with a child.

I see a wife who had the strength to help her husband through a battle with cancer.

Burnishing her sympathy cred: Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham spent Tuesday working at an early childhood education center in Immokalee to learn about “the needs of the migrant families” there.

I see the gentle wrinkles of time underneath a face beaming with hope.

I know this is cheesy to say, but I got emotional when I first saw these pictures of Graham, who admittedly is probably my first or second choice to be the next Governor of Florida.

If nothing else, what I see here is the exact opposite of the awkward (albeit effective) current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion.

I see the opposite of the wannabe Fox News studio host who is also running for Governor (Ron DeSantis).

I see the opposite of the less-than-genuine Republican who is most likely to face Graham in November (Adam Putnam).

Yet, as I look at the earnestness of this woman, with whom I have connected but really don’t know, I can’t help but wonder:

Why isn’t her campaign doing better?

Why is she struggling to raise real money?

Why do so many Democrats say that she is “boring” on the campaign trail?

Why do I have this bad feeling in my stomach about where Graham’s campaign will end?

Graham is in a difficult position right now as the politics of Parkland reshape the Democratic primary and the gubernatorial race.

On her left, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is winning the competition for earned media. He’s on MSNBC. He’s being written up in The Washington Post. Kevin Cate, one of his media advisers, can show you stats about clicks and likes and retweets that indicate Gillum is the candidate most in sync with Democratic primary voters.

On Graham’s other flank is former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine. Where Gillum’s campaign is being infused with the oxygen of earned media, Levine’s effort is being propelled by a seemingly unending number of personal checks to pay for a stream of television ads.

Also in the mix is Orlando businessman Chris King, who has yet to register with most voters, but whose presence in the race is just another indication that the primary is a wide-open affair.

The polls indicate that Graham is the nominal front-runner. And it’s a mistake to label Graham, as POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo does, a “weak” front-runner.

To the contrary, she’s a good candidate running against three other good candidates. This primary will be won with the four candidates separated by no more than a dozen or so points.

Yet there are too-frequent reminders that Graham’s position atop the polls is precarious.

Gillum recently announced that he has the support of top Democratic fundraiser Bob Poe.

On Wednesday, Levine scored the endorsement of former state lawmaker Keith Fitzgerald, who will serve as a policy adviser to the campaign. Why is this significant? Because Fitz — so respected by the Steve Schales of the party — is the kind of center-left Democrat Graham needs to win the primary.

Had Graham won the backing of Poe and/or Fitzgerald, it probably would not have registered. It would have just been another indication of Graham sewing up the establishment’s support.

Instead, there are now two more cracks in Gwen Graham’s facade.

It’s becoming hard to look at.

Philip Levine, Andrew Gillum plan Jacksonville area fundraisers

Two major Democratic candidates for Governor plan Jacksonville area stops this week, as fundraising efforts continue for the August primary.

Philip Levine will hold a “cocktail party” event Thursday evening, with a nascent host committee including Mark FrischMatt Kane, and Ted Stein among others.

The event honoring the Miami Beach Mayor will be at the Beaches Museum in Jacksonville Beach, and will kick off at 6 p.m.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will have his own Jacksonville area event as well, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at the home of Erica & Colin Connor in Ponte Vedra Beach.

A minimum $50 buy-in is requested to attend the Gillum affair.

Levine and Gillum have had different approaches to campaign finance in this campaign.

Levine has spent over $4.6 million of personal funds on his campaign.

Gillum, without recourse to that kind of personal wealth, has had slower fundraising than other major candidates, and has just under $800,000 cash on hand.

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