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.