Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has struggled with media scrutiny regarding his day job, and flatlined fundraising (such as a $78,000 September) during his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor.
Per a poll Florida Politics commissioned this week, Gillum is getting drubbed in polls — 31 percent to 13 percent, with the momentum going Gwen Graham‘s way.
Gillum came into AP Day Thursday with those questions looming … and at the end of his half-hour in the spotlight, they still loom — especially after a sharp-elbowed performance from Graham, who took Republicans to task as if in general election mode, directly preceded him.
After a long autobiographical intro that seemingly would be wasted on the state’s most plugged in political reporters, Gillum — a politician since he became an adult — said he was running so “regular people” should have a chance to get into politics.
That “regular people” trope: Gillum’s justification for underperforming in fundraising, as he has a high “total number” of individual contributors.
Despite FBI investigations into Tallahassee’s City Hall, Gillum went on to itemize various local achievements as a “blueprint for the rest of the state of Florida.”
Soon enough, Gillum moved on to criticize Gov. Rick Scott for not expanding Medicaid, and for not accepting federal “stimulus” money for expanding high-speed rail.
Citing a “deficit of forward thinking” in the state, Gillum then moved on to lament narrow losses to Gov. Scott.
“The way we’re going to have to run this race,” Gillum said, is by “leading with our values.”
Gillum believes that the key to winning is a “Democratic nominee who can inspire and turn out 100,000 new voters,” offering “ideas that our state is clamoring for.”
“The normal status quo is to cover these races chasing the money race,” Gillum said, as well as regional considerations.
Gillum thinks this race transcends the normal operation of statewide politics, and that a “milquetoast” candidate can’t make the sale — and that he can make the sale everywhere.
“I trust my path to victory in this crowded field of Democrats more than anyone else running,” Gillum said. “The strategy is you’ve got to turn more of your people out.”
Reporters were skeptical, with the first questioner saying the race is all but hopeless given the FBI investigation on his City Hall.
But Gillum doesn’t expect anything “damaging,” “illegal,” or “inappropriate” to come out about him.
“If there has been wrongdoing, I’m interested in seeing that sought out and removed,” Gillum said. “I want to be the first one to see that exposed.”
Another reporter dinged Gillum for perceptions of corruption and lack of transparency regarding public records requests.
Gillum countered that, saying reporters have gotten “everything [they] asked for,” and that this “difficult moment for the citizens of Tallahassee” will be overcome.
“What I would like to see is a much more complete picture of what is happening in our city,” Gillum said.
“I’m not the subject of any investigation,” Gillum noted, in response to yet another question about federal scrutiny of Florida’s capital.