Andrew Gillum might have started out a money underdog in the race for the Florida governor's mansion, but the Tallahassee mayor has become the darling of progressive out-of-state billionaires and with less than three weeks in the campaign, has money to burn.
On Thursday, CNN announced billionaire philanthropist-turned-political-activist Tom Steyer added another $2 million to the sizable stash he's already put in Gillum's political action committee ("Forward Florida") war chest. (The Hill carried much the same story.)
What does Steyer want from Gillum for such generosity? For starters, says CNN, through his organization "Need to Impeach," the former hedge fund investor from California is directing a massive direct mail pitch to 300,000 Florida voters who have signed up to support his effort to impeach President Donald Trump. The mail piece makes specific reference to Gillum's support of impeachment.
Steyer scratches Gillum's back, Gillum scratches his.
Another organization Steyer funds, NextGen America, has already spent more than $5 million to get Gillum elected. But Need to Impeach by far is Steyer's favorite child this election cycle.
He has sunk $50 million into Need to Impeach so far, "turning him into a familiar face in TV ads and, last year, on a Times Square billboard."
Having spent $120 million and signed up 6 million people to oust the president of the United States, "Tom Steyer has assembled in a year an organization with more reach than the NRA," the Atlantic writes in its October edition. The dynamic story of his super-charged political committee, "How Tom Steyer Built the Biggest Political Machine You’ve Never Heard Of" definitely is worth a read.
Back at his San Francisco headquarters, he has his staff crunching the numbers. "For every 1 million voters, about 60 percent are registered, half support Democrats, and about 40 percent reliably show up to the polls," author Edward-Isaac Dovere tells us. "For every 1 million people who’ve signed up with Need to Impeach, 85 percent are registered, 95 percent support Democrats, and 34 percent reliably show up."
If Need to Impeach is Steyer's pet of the year, Gillum is close behind.
"If you were going to choose a single race that has the most national significance, it would be the governor's race in Florida," Steyer told CNN.
He went on to say Gillum, in particular, is a special candidate, and that "here you have a young African-American that is straightforward on education, good on climate, took on the NRA, straightforward on healthcare, has talked a lot about justice and the criminal justice system and supports impeaching the President."
Gillum's opponent Ron DeSantis, of course, came to prominence after President Trump gave him his blessing.
And Gillum hasn't been shy in his call for Trump's impeachment. He proudly stated during the Democratic primary that he was the only candidates who had the "courage" to support that concept and used it to show how he would stand up to the Trump administration if he becomes governor.
DeSantis is convinced the dump-Trump posture is too far out of the mainstream and will hurt the Democrat in the end. "We need a governor who is going to work constructively with the Trump administration to advance Florida's priorities," DeSantis told CNN in September. "You know, Andrew wants to impeach President Trump, about what? I don't know."
Steyer has a different view.
Impeachment, he claims, will do nothing to hurt Gillum with moderate and independent voters, and the subject doesn't fire up Republicans, either.
"We looked at 5,000 Republican ads and not one of them mentioned impeachment. So, if you want to know if it is a hot-button issue (for Republicans), it isn't," said Steyer.
Steyer believes impeachment will have an opposite effect on Democrats, who won't stay home this year as they usually do during midterms, but will be motivated to impeach, impeach, impeach.
"Andrew Gillum is straightforward and speaks the truth and that is why I think we got such a big turnout in the primary and why we will have an even bigger turnout in November," he said.
Oh, and by the way, Steyer has big plans if Democrats take back the House, the Atlantic tells us.
"... Need to Impeach will immediately move to the next phase, with a plan that includes activating its six-million-name list to immediately pressure new members to sign on with Donald Trump’s impeachment ... A group of constitutional lawyers is already under contract drafting specific articles of impeachment against Trump, which it will then mail to supporters. (If and when Bob Mueller puts out a report, they may do an update.)"
Gillum will earn that $2 million. His job, it seems, will be to make sure Florida is on board.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith