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After LG Picks, First Order of Business for DeSantis and Gillum: Mending Fences

September 10, 2018 - 6:00am
Jeanette Nuñez and Chris King
Jeanette Nuñez and Chris King

With Jeanette Nuñez and Chris King, the gubernatorial hopefuls Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum chose solid, if not bold, imaginative picks for their running mates last week.  But they face monumental missionary work after bitter, divisive primaries.

Public perception, political rhetoric, and the torrent of faux punditry aside, there are bruised feelings on both sides of the spectrum. Supporters of also-rans Adam Putnam and Gwen Graham are not in a forgiving mood. Heck, Putnam and Graham themselves, despite their public statements, reportedly are still seething.

Graham, the daughter of a highly regarded former governor and senator, ran on her gender and legacy, not her accomplishments during a two-year stint in the U.S. House of Representatives. She fled from her anti-environmental voting record, laughingly attempted to pass herself off as a progressive, and approved a surrogate-fueled whisper campaign, attacking Gillum for the FBI investigation into the City of Tallahassee.

With no substance behind it, the “Gwen and the Men” strategy failed.

Gillum, in turn, exposed Graham’s pro-pollution proclivities and her penchant for siding with Republicans. Despite some news reports, Graham was never considered for the post of lieutenant governor. The duo would never have meshed.

Democrat Chris King in Orlando
Democrat Chris King in Orlando

By choosing King, Gillum ensured that the progressive wing of the Florida Democratic Party owns responsibility for this election. Progressives for years have been flinging brickbats at the party establishment for backing centrists.  Except for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, FDP candidates have consistently failed in statewide general elections; there hasn’t been a Democratic governor in 20 years.

Democratic powerbrokers split their allegiances in the primary between former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine and Graham. The Tallahassee mayor was virtually ignored until he surged in the last three weeks of the campaign. Even then, he garnered virtually no support from the so-called corporate wing.

One telling episode: King, at the FDP-sponsored unity rally two days after the election, lauded Gillum for winning the primary without establishment support. The remark was met with only a smattering of applause, but then again, the introduction of FDP Chairperson Terrie Rizzo produced little more than a golf clap.

A divide needs to be bridged.

On the Republican side, the electorate rejected the overwhelming early favorite to be the next governor. Putnam spent eight years as Florida commissioner of agriculture, grooming himself for Florida’s top job. Prior to that, he served five terms in the U.S. House.

DeSantis’ emphasis on being endorsed “by the big man himself” trumped Putnam’s years of high-profile public service and polls showing he would fare far better than DeSantis against any Democratic nominee, beating them all.

Being a “proud NRA sellout” and darling of the iconic Publix supermarket chain wasn’t enough to propel Putnam.

Jeanette Nuñez with VP Mike Pence and Ron DeSantis
Jeanette Nuñez with VP Mike Pence and Ron DeSantis

With Nuñez, DeSantis benefited himself with the general electorate. First, he selected a woman, a move Gillum felt unnecessary after a particularly nasty primary when he defeated one. Secondly, a Latina will resonate with Florida’s large Hispanic community.

But the four-term Florida House member from Miami doesn’t come without baggage.  She had unkind words for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. That sounds like another intra-party complication for Republicans.

While gender, ethnicity, and legislative experience point to GOP advantages in the lieutenant governor selection, King brings two important assets to the Democratic ticket: an established statewide ground game that can be folded into the Gillum effort, and representation inside the I-4 corridor, the mother of all Florida electoral battlegrounds.

Quelling discord with vanquished opponents, their sponsors, surrogates, and voters only represents the first hurdle for Gillum and DeSantis. Looming large and bubbling in social media is the youth represented on both tickets. Florida’s largest voting bloc consists of white, older voters who have the highest turnout rates in the state, especially during midterms.  They reliably give Republicans a plurality.

In this case, “older” should refer to those over 50, not just seniors. Here are the ages of the four candidates on both tickets: DeSantis, turns 40 this week; Gillum, 39; Nuñez, 46, and King, 39. Ponce de Leon was right.

With so many unsolved issues that seniors care about -- health, mass transit, polluted beaches and waterways, housing, and education (concern for children and grandchildren) -- the candidates who can sincerely articulate a platform with solutions to those problems will outperform traditional results with that key demographic.

This week launches a furious, two-month sprint to the finish line. Gillum and DeSantis are running neck-and-neck. The candidate making the fewest stumbles will be able to call 700 N. Adams St., Tallahassee, home.

Jim Bleyer, a former reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, writes the Tampa Bay Beat blog.


Gillum's candidacy reminds me of when Al Sharpton ran for president. Sharpton made a fortune with his campaign and kept it for himself. Gillum already has King's 3 million for the LT Gov. seat. Now he will take aim at the few corporate donors the Dems have in Florida and rake in the out of state cash (Soros, Steyer, et al.) Gillum will lose for sure but ride (fly) off into the sunset a rich man, a BLM man, true to his shakedown heritage. Remember, 'Pants Up, Don't Loot!'.

What the U.S. is supposed to be: A Constitutional Republic - Where the rights of the individual are protected. What we pretend it is: A Democracy - Where the individual is forced to comply with the will of the majority. What it actually is: A Corporation owned by an international banking cabal, where the individual has no rights and whose labor is used as collateral in an unlawful pyramid scheme. It does not matter which party is in office. They are all for the BANKERS and big corporations. If you still think party affiliation makes any difference, then you are part of the problem. With your face 2 inches from the screen, you cannot see that they are just the opposite wings of the same vulture. Take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture. This is textbook “divide and conquer”. While the slaves are distracted from pointing fingers and bickering back and forth about public truth, the bankers are formulating the real truth.

Interesting perspective. Unfortunately (for us) ... you could be right!

This was the Dems chance to win...sadly a record number of candidates stole votes from the front runners allowing Gillum to claim the nomination with the lowest total in history. Getting people to support his far left agenda will be especially hard under those circumstances. I think if DeSantis proposes anything that sounds reasonably good and avoids Trump, while still preserving those votes, he will sadly win in a landslide... Most of our NPA council is voting for DeSantis... The Dem leadership, or lack thereof blew a golden opportunity this year by not uniting behind a single rep, instead of what, 10?

Mr. Bleyer: Nice article, thank you for sharing. Do you know when the next gubernatorial debates are ?

Good grief, Sunshine State News! Who is this guy trying to be? Leslie Wimes? He is failing miserably! At least her articles are fun to read! Get rid of this hack!

You didn't like the "golf clap" remark?

Bleyer is no more qualified to pontificate on this than a former hack! Oh yes - he is a former hack!

You wish the dems were in disarray...………..Other than a few, they are ver happy with any of those running...……..But you are stuck with DeSantis/Trump racist campaign …………….Fact is republicans are in big trouble into 2 camps, Trump supporters and decent people...…….At least the fewer decent ones left as many, most have already left the party disgusted with what is has become openly racist, fascist memes from Trump to DeSantis...………..So while Trump might have high support in the repub party, that is a much smaller slice of the pie than before and shrinking fast...…………….And by November Trump will be even more hated as the truth comes out by independent which already lean dems that along with decent repubs....………..But what would you expect voting in such an amoral serial fascist liar and openly racist DeSantis?

Jerry, never underestimate Republicans. I think they purposely left Nunez's anti Trump remarks on her twitter feed to appeal to the 30% of Republicans who hold their noses and still vote with the party. If they (Desantis and Nunez) win, Nunez can write an anonymous Op-Ed to let us know someone rational is still involved in running the government. Seriously, Desantis and Gillum are both qualified. Cant wait for the melt-down in chief to show up and hold some of his rallies. Can't wait to watch Ricky hide from him. Please visit us Mr. President, please come here and rant. It's the only way Democrats will bother to come out and vote.

What is this? A playground? The fence is fine. People within the Democratic Party need to understand their sole mission now is to win.

you picked a loser

No one votes for the LG. This is DeSantis and Gillum only. Picking the LG adds nothing to the ticket.

"TRUTH" has become more and more difficult to "swallow" lately by ill-equipped, incompetent Democrat political & sports "LOSERS", and their 'follower' Lemmings...(Boo Hoo !)

Said cbreeze, our local admitted racist, just proves my point...

Said "jerry", our "SSN" resident "court jester" and "clown".....and HIS only "point" is on his head...

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