Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum upset a crowded field of well-funded candidates in Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday, a step away from becoming the state’s first black governor. His surprise victory sets up a November showdown with Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, a favorite of President Donald Trump.
Gillum’s victory could further energize black voters in a year when Democrats are already counting on high turnout among minorities to buoy the party in the November election. Gillum is the party’s third black gubernatorial nominee this year, along with Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Ben Jealous in Maryland.
DeSantis rode Trump’s endorsement to victory in the GOP race, underscoring the president’s broad appeal in Republican primaries. Trump cheered DeSantis’ victory on Twitter Tuesday night, writing: “Ron will be a fantastic Governor. On to November!”
DeSantis was one of several Republicans running in contests Tuesday in Florida and Arizona who hoped that cozying up to the president would be rewarded by voters.
In Arizona, primary contests were shadowed by the death of Sen. John McCain. Though McCain was a towering figure who was elected to the Senate by Arizonans six times, the three Republican candidates running to replace his retiring seat-mate, Sen. Jeff Flake, aligned themselves more with the president than the longtime senator.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey planned to name a replacement to fill McCain’s seat after the primary.