Florida looks ‘redder than blue' after GOP wins

Saul Bowman
November 8, 2018

Gillum, who could become Florida's first African-American governor, came up short Tuesday night by a slim margin of 49.7 percent to 49 percent against his GOP rival Ron DeSantis.

Republican Ron DeSantis will win the race to become Florida's 46th governor, CNN projects, defeating Democrat Andrew Gillum to become the state's fourth consecutive GOP chief executive. The president also used his Twitter account to attack Gillum, calling him "a thief" who is "mayor of poorly run Tallahassee". The day after Gillum won the Democratic primary, DeSantis said Florida voters shouldn't "monkey this up" by electing Gillum. Bill Nelson in his Senate race against Gov. Rick Scott.

Floridians can expect to see DeSantis continue the decades-long trend of Republican leadership in the state's highest office, pushing ahead with the policies adopted by Scott and Jeb Bush, such as restrictions on abortion and support for the Stand Your Ground law, which lets people off the hook for shooting someone if they feel threatened.

Part of the reason Gillum, who consistently led in polls, lost is that only two weeks before the midterm election, news broke that he had accepted tickets to see the Broadway play Hamilton from an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent posing as a real-estate developer.

With more than 99 percent reporting, DeSantis had a more than 77,000-vote lead out of 7.9 million ballots reported.

The contests for governor in Florida and Georgia - in which liberal black Democrats faced off against white Republicans strongly supported by Trump - had not been resolved by 11 p.m. EST (0400 GMT). All told, Democrats had flipped at least seven Republican-held governorships without suffering any losses as of early Wednesday morning. "We recognize that we didn't win this tonight".

DeSantis quit his job in Congress to focus on the gubernatorial race, a heated affair that largely reflected the broader national tensions over race and class in the Trump era.

His victory ratifies Trump's political strength in Florida, the most important battleground state in presidential elections.

Republicans controlled 33 governors' mansions and two-thirds of state legislative chambers going into Tuesday.

During the campaign, Gillum repeatedly launched accusations of racism against DeSantis, which DeSantis firmly denied. "So ignore him and vote, Florida!" In the largest counties, that could affect the differences by as many as 2,000 total votes. This race was supposed to be a blueprint for how Democrats could pull left on economics and cultural issues and win in swing states.

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