Andrew Gillum rode a late surge of African-American voters to an upset victory in the Democratic primary Tuesday and an historic opportunity to become the first black governor in Florida history.
The Associated Press called the race for Gillum shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday with Gillum holding a two-point lead over Gwen Graham that amounted to about 25,000 votes. Gillum was beating Graham by about a 2-to-1 margin in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The outcome delighted a raucous crowd that gathered in Tallahassee to celebrate Gillum’s victory.
His victory gives Florida voters a striking contrast in both style and substance with his Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has the enthusiastic support of Donald Trump.
Gillum languished in the polls for most of the campaign but gained momentum in the final two weeks in a “Bring it Home” tour across the state. He was helped by a show of support from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of several national celebrities who endorsed him, along with actress Jane Fonda, TV producer Norman Lear and former NBA star Grant Hill.
A Miami native and former student government leader at Florida A&M University, Gillum was named one of “14 young Democrats to watch” by The New York Times two years ago.
At 39, Gillum was by far the youngest candidate in the crowded field, but the most experienced in public office. He was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission at age 23 and became mayor four years ago.