Andrew Gillum closes gap with Ron DeSantis ahead of expected recount


On Friday, nearly three days after ballots began to be counted, we still lack clarity in who the next Governor will be.

We do know there will be a machine recount.

With a vote lead of 36,211 with over 8.2 million ballots counted (rounding up to a 0.46 percent edge) Republican Ron DeSantis, the 40-year-old former three-term Congressman who took the nomination with the President’s blessing has seemingly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum to become the next Governor of Florida.

Seemingly being the key word.

The Governor’s race, like the U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner races, has margins under the 0.50 percent threshold that triggers a recount. The world’s eyes again are on Florida elections, and this one especially as provisional ballot verification (a typically Democratic stronghold) comes into play.

The Gillum campaign wants every vote counted: “On Tuesday night, the Gillum for Governor campaign operated with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count. Since that time, it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported.

“Our campaign, along with our attorney Barry Richard, is monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount. Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted,” asserted a campaign spokesperson.

Gillum, addressing supporters during a Facebook Live appearance Thursday, noted that he’s still trailing DeSantis.

“I want you to know that in spite of the fact that we’re a little bit down in the numbers, we’re hopeful that every single vote will be counted in this race,” Gillum said.

The narrative has changed from Election Night when Gillum called DeSantis and conceded victory, before the margin dwindled from what was a more than 1 percentage point lead.

DeSantis thumped his chest in victory at the time, delighting his base.

“The pundit class gave us no chance … the political and media class seemed eager to write our obituary … On Election Day, it’s the voice of the people that rules,” DeSantis said.

And based on available information, he was right. His base prevailed.

But with something less than a mandate, DeSantis even then extended a rhetorical olive branch to opponents.

“I don’t care if you were against me in the campaign,” DeSantis added, saying that his goal was to work together for the state.

An ameliorating coda to an explosive campaign.

And a campaign that may not be officially over if yet another recount scenario comes into play here.

DeSantis isn’t worried about that, though.

“I was honored Tuesday night to be elected 46th Governor of the State of Florida.  The results of the election were clear.  I am now focused on the transition effort and will allow the legal efforts regarding the election to proceed, as is necessary, as the process unfolds,” he told us Thursday afternoon.


This razor’s edge outcome is fitting for a battle of the bases, and a referendum both on President Donald Trump and the burgeoning progressive movement, that unlikely nominee Gillum has become a national leader of in recent months.

DeSantis, thus far, is the “apparent winner.” Though that doesn’t mean things will be predictable if he is inaugurated as expected.

While DeSantis has promised continuity with the Rick Scott era, those who have covered state government throughout Scott’s eight years know that some of the harshest battles were between the populist right in the state House and the more pragmatic Senate.

On the campaign trail and in outreach, DeSantis contrasted himself with Gillum, suggesting the Tallahassee Mayor’s policies are too far left for Florida.

The Ponte Vedra Republican pledged to veto any and all tax increases for the next four years, contending that a state’s low-tax environment is its greatest asset for expanding the economy. In contrast, Gillum in part ran on a corporate tax rate hike.

DeSantis, who has described himself as a “Teddy Roosevelt-Republican,” is outspoken on environmental concerns.

He railed against his primary opponent Adam Putnam for not faulting the state’s massive sugar industry for the proliferation of toxic algae blooms plaguing the Treasure Coast. He has promised to expedite the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, expected to help ease the amount of toxic overflow into nearby estuaries.

Adding weight to his environmental policy platform was support from The Everglades Trust.


But ultimately, the issues of the day didn’t define Florida’s race for Governor.

Republicans put forth a candidate hand-picked by President Trump.

Democrats selected a candidate who was once considered a long shot, arguably the most progressive to ever run for statewide office and the only African-American gubernatorial candidate in the state’s history.

Accordingly, Trump and race occupied the mind of nearly every voter in the most polarized statewide campaign in the modern era.

DeSantis kicked off his post-primary campaign by claiming that electing Gillum would “monkey this up,” before dealing with a number of racial controversies regarding supporters that culminated with Gillum saying in a debate, “I’m not saying you’re a racist, but the racists think you’re racist.”

Identity politics factored into this campaign in a way few expected before the August primary.

Before Tuesday, Trump would visit the state three times to rally for DeSantis. The President would periodically commend DeSantis via his Twitter account, and in the final weeks made a point of condemning Gillum’s leadership skills, calling Tallahassee “the most corrupt city” in the country — even suggesting Gillum “is a stone-cold thief.”

DeSantis defended Trump as the campaign closed.

“From an economic perspective and a results perspective,” DeSantis said, Trump’s message is a “good message for folks.”

“You people have to decide: if you’re more concerned about tweeting than results, I respect that. That’s your vote, you can do what you want. To me, it’s all about results,” DeSantis added.

In the backdrop, ethics scandals involving both candidates drove campaign narrative, though Gillum’s was more affected.

A two-year-long investigation into corruption in Tallahassee plagued Gillum’s candidacy. The Mayor had vehemently denied being a “target.” But DeSantis made it stick, even though Gillum has yet to be subpoenaed by the FBI, and the agency hasn’t commented on his vulnerability as a leader.

But eleventh-hour developments in a state ethics investigation separate from the FBI’s suggested Gillum is more implicated than previously thought.

A series of records released in late October linked Gillum to the FBI, showing in part that the Mayor may have accepted a ticket to the Broadway musical “Hamilton” from an undercover agent posing as a developer wanting to do deals in the city.

Republicans used the news as attack fodder, while the left countered with questions about $145,000 of taxpayer-funded travel by DeSantis, which included trips to Fox News studios to boost his candidacy.

The election, however, came down to those quintessential Florida constants: Base turnout and the disposition of the No-Party-Affiliated voters.

And in outreach, neither had a tangible advantage.

Fueling each candidate’s appeal to voters was a near-even cash race, which ended in excess of $106 million. Each candidate would surpass the $50 million mark in fundraising before Tuesday’s showdown.

In trackable money, DeSantis led by just $1 million, meaning cash ultimately wouldn’t decide who prevailed.

But if the primary election’s principles were any indication, money meant little, to begin with.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, DeSantis’ primary opponent, put more than $30 million into his race but lost to DeSantis, who spent around $16 million.

Gillum doled out less than $7 million ahead of the Aug. 28 primary and won against the other four Democratic hopefuls — all of which had outspent him.

Because DeSantis and Gillum bucked traditional political wisdom by beating the better-funded establishment favorites in the primary, the race was essentially impossible to forecast. The gubernatorial finalists in 2018 weren’t supposed to be there in the first place.

And while polls almost entirely showed Gillum ahead by some margin, even he dismissed them as junk science.

In this case, that appears to be right. But the recount may (repeat, may) change things.

Check back for updates.


Tallahassee correspondent Danny McAuliffe and The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Frankie M.

    November 6, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    Score one fer the hatas! The us against the world narrative worked again!! At least Lenny was magnanimous in victory…if he knows what that is. Oh well I’m sure he’ll have some bible verses for us in the next few days.

  • Dem 4 Life

    November 7, 2018 at 1:49 am

    Dems lost Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum–BUT, we gained nearly 2 million mostly Democratic voters with Amendment 4.

    I’ll take it.

    • Charles

      November 7, 2018 at 10:08 am

      One question. Do you feel the least bit ashamed that you enjoy the fact that nearly 1.5-2 million convicted felons in Florida are likely democrats? Says a lot about the current state of your party that you’re depending on those votes in 2020.

      • Saya Watts

        November 7, 2018 at 2:23 pm

        You should definitely feel ashamed of purposely misrepresenting the fact that voting rights of Caucasian felons were far more often reinstated by Gov. Scott than minorities especially blacks. Minorities are more likely to be convicted of the same accused crimes as Caucasians are. Statistically speaking, since blacks are far more likely to Democrats than whites, one cannot say that Scott did because he is racist or just because that might give one more vote against him.

        Because it does not appear that you want to delve deeply into the statistics. I have only chosen one link that beautifully and humorously gives you a synopsis of the problem.

        • Charles

          November 8, 2018 at 10:55 am

          Really? You’re going to throw John Oliver at me? May as well give me Colbert or Kimmel. And by the way, ex-convicted felons have to apply for reinstatement of rights. It isn’t just given to them when their sentence is complete.

          And since race is so important to you, I’d like to throw this little nugget out there. Consider 2017 alone, caucasians make up 2/3 of all arrest in the state of Florida. Wow! Shocking! Do you think this may be why Governor Scott reinstated more whites than blacks? No, it can’t be! Because John Oliver and his fellow late night show hosts say different!

          And here’s a more credible resource:

          • Hal Logan

            November 9, 2018 at 11:42 am

            I see you’re a simpleton Charles so let’s do this by the numbers.

            1. “You’re going to throw John Oliver at me?” Oliver goes into significantly more detail in his show than either of the late-night hosts you mentioned. More importantly, you haven’t pointed out a piece of information in the episode of LWT that you believe is incorrect. Still more importantly, the episode of LWT used actual video from clemency board hearings that was neither presented out-of-context nor dishonestly edited. Either state why the LWT piece is incorrect, or acknowledge that your only argument is that you just don’t like it.

            2. “Consider 2017 alone, caucasians make up 2/3 of all arrest in the state of Florida.”
            Yeah, and we white Floridians make up more than 85% of the adult population. Go ahead, compare the percentage of black arrests to the percentage of the black adult residents. See what conclusions you draw from that. And that’s with only the implicit bias that state laws and courts at least sometimes pay lip service to trying to keep color-blind. Clemency is granted to white applicants at a higher rate of people of color in a process where the waiting list is over 10,000 applicants and wherein the governor has explicitly stated (in the video John Oliver aired which you enjoyed so much) that there’s no law requiring the hearings to be fair or impartial, and that the members of the clemency board can be as biased as they want.

            There are people with high enough of an IQ to justify their belligerence. You sir, are not one of them.

      • Hal Logan

        November 8, 2018 at 4:02 pm

        Well let’s see Charles. Considering that police stops, arrests, convictions, and sentences all skew more harshly when the poor and people of color are involved, and considering that the Republican party does a pretty decent job of making it clear that it has no love for either of those groups, I can’t really say I’m surprised that those who have served their time and are successfully re-entering society would by more likely to vote for Democrats. Especially considering that the GOP opposed passing amendment 4 to restore their voting rights.

        Out of curiosity, do you feel ashamed of that sad state of affairs at all? Or better question, do you feel shame… ever?

        • Charles

          November 13, 2018 at 12:50 pm

          Hal, it’s nice to see how quickly you resort to the name calling and insults. I also appreciate how you insinuate Republicans are racist. However, you seem to have left out misogynistic, homophobic and a few others. You know, the usual democratic playbook.

          Maybe to your surprise, I do regret my previous post. I should have used better judgment and excluded the condescending remarks. I apologize to Saya for my behavior. Not to you however. But still, two facts remain:

          – John Oliver is still a late night talk show host who is known for his vitriol against conservatives. I’d go even further and say he is the liberal version of Alex Jones. His job is to stir the pot. He has spouted so much hate and misinformation that you can’t take him seriously. Even his former colleague, Jon Stewart, said Oliver is only a comedian, not a journalist. So, no. I will not be debating his so called facts.

          – Another fact is that more white people are arrested than African-American in Florida. Which you actually agreed with, then followed up with the usual “yeah, but” argument. So since I am a simpleton, I would guess there are more white applicants than any other race. Just maybe?

          Look, I’ll concede that the percentage of black arrests versus black residents is ridiculously high. And the same goes for incarceration. I’m not going to speculate as to why that is or who is to blame. I’m probably more on your side than you think about that particular argument.

          Also keep in mind that Florida’s recidivism rate is around 33% within 3 years and 65% after 5 years. Factor that with the probability that 40-50% will actually vote (I’m being generous). The number of voters gained dwindle down quite a bit. Good luck Hal!

  • Frankie M.

    November 7, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Welcome to the Age of Trump where lies & fear trump hope & change. Gillum got the turnout but still couldn’t win. I guess it could’ve been worse. Just imagine how bad it would have been if Graham won the primary. From now on I will believe the opposite of whatever the polls say. They are worthless unless you have Curry’s magic 8 ball/pollster.

    • mck

      November 8, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      Republicans won the turn out FWIW from mail-ins to earlies to election day.

      I think Graham would have beaten DeSantis easily. Gillum has no appeal for Rs period. None. Zilch. And his ill- considered tour of the state with Clinton is what solidified R support behind DeSantis, who they weren’t over the moon for.

      Graham had a lot of appeal to non-Trump Republicans. She’s got a lot of R in her, while still being D, and she’s old time FL politics. R women had no interest in Gillum, they would have had some for Graham.

      Gillum was a bad candidate, Ds can’t or won’t see that, because they thought he was the 2nd coming of Obama. I’m sure Obama was not flattered by the comparison.

  • Seber Newsome III

    November 8, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Democrats up to their usual tricks. They are trying to steal the elections in Florida, Gillum and his socialist are not honest and cannot handle defeat. God will punish them for this, karma will get them.

    • John

      November 8, 2018 at 9:06 pm

      Comments like “God will punish them” is a tattoo on your forehead for cloudy thinking. And, “cloudy thinking” is a very polite term for what’s going on (or not) inside your head.

    • Mu gem

      November 9, 2018 at 12:20 am

      R u even able to spell. If u R, kindly use stanbard abbreviations.Yes did mean bard or was it barf. Your extremely educated diatribe is so misinformed. Forgiveness prevails,as it’s not necessary to understand the severe maladies you’re plagued with. The stats you provide are totally erroneous,OOPS meant erogenous. Ya kno hows we do it in flada! Omgosh! Felons voting.Lawdy me, den udder states is sooo messed up cause fem got felons voting & we al no dey side w the big d,ya kno,big d be da DEVIL himself. Well best b go in… Going to see all my brothers & sisters that may now VOTE! Dat is whoop ass come next election. So sorry no offshore drilling,must be devastated!

    • John B Hogan

      November 9, 2018 at 10:46 am

      Your special.

    • Ray Tampa

      November 15, 2018 at 2:45 am

      If GOD hasn’t seen fit to punish Rick Scott with all of his thievery suggests that he is out of the business of punishing people.

  • mck

    November 8, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    They are focusing on rejected mail in votes. They are fools. They will increase DeSantis’s lead, because the vast majority of mail in ballots are sent in by Republicans.

    They need to deep 6 those ballots! The provissionals will almost certainly fail as well, contrary to popular belief, a good portion of them are by people who aren’t actually registered to vote.

    Anybody following Steve Schale here or on his blog, or who had been following the early voting totals daily, knew the voter disparity in turn out–Rs vs Ds showing up at the polls. The amount DeSantis won by is almost exactly the amount of the turn per party.

    And NPAs broke evenly, which also should have been expected too–Schale pinned his hopes not on D turn out, which he knew he would lose, but on NPAs, I warned him not to trust polls which sampled 27% “Independents.” That’s more of us than exist.

    I warned him that neither majority party “gets” us. Every NPA, who didn’t vote NPA for Darcy Richardson, that I spoke to felt they were choosing the lesser of two evils: Gillum was a vote for FL not being racist, DeSantis was a vote for FL not tolerating corruption. Major party drones don’t get that we don’t care about “teams.” Seriously, we find it offensive.

  • John

    November 8, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    Lordy this article … were there any words from your SAT prep that you didn’t throw in? “ameliorating.” “burgeoning.” “rhetorical.”

    Regardless, that’s beside the more important point. That a candidate’s ethics for Governor is called into question over TICKETS TO HAMILTON is absurd. If Broadway show tickets bother you, you should be on a suicide hotline over what the current administration is doing. Bribes. Using the position of POTUS to swell their pockets. You’re comparing under three hundred dollars of favoritism to literally near-billions of dollars of corrupt politics? Let’s get a little perspective on this folks.

    • Tyrone

      November 8, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      Amazing how you focus on the Hamilton tickets and not on the intended outcome of Gillum receiving the “free” tickets. The tickets’ value is not the point. Politicians taking freebies from anyone and providing political favors them in return is called CORRUPTION. Why this escapes you is obvious.

  • Juan

    November 8, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    Um….I’m an x con….and will NEVER vote Democrat

  • Dwayne Gordon

    November 9, 2018 at 6:21 am

    We have had 27 recounts only 3 changed election results so election results rarely Change election results so desantis will be our govenor and calldwell will be out Agriculture Commissionor

Comments are closed.


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