Wags call Florida God’s waiting room. It is a state full of seniors, many of them self-imposed exiles from New York and the Northeast. Unlike Andrew Gillum, they don’t fear warming; they seek it. They don’t clamor for higher taxes; they avoid them. President Trump warns that a victorious Gillum could turn Florida into Venezuela. An equally undesirable possibility is that he could turn Florida into New York, burdened by higher taxes, stupid regulations, an anti-business ethos, candyass gun restrictions, high crime, and sanctuary cities. Then where do New York exiles go? American Samoa?
Clueless Big Apple pundits say Gillum will enjoy high and enthusiastic black turnout. I am not so sure. “Blacks like that Florida is a pro-gun state,” observed a Florida resident. “I know plenty of African-Americans who say they won’t vote for Gillum because he is planning on taking away the concealed gun permit.”
The Floridians with whom I spoke either didn’t see the Gillum-Ron DeSantis debate on CNN Sunday night or saw it and thought Gillum behaved like a demagogic hack and flim-flam artist. One man I met at a Daytona Beach cafe commented, “How can you take him seriously when he accuses DeSantis of racism based on DeSantis innocently using the non-racist phrase ‘monkey with’?”
DeSantis got points from Floridians for his command of the facts, as befits a former prosecutor. Gillum, by contrast, avoided specifics and trafficked in hacky lines, such as “I believe in science” (unlike the Republicans, blah, blah, blah).
Another reason to be suspicious of East Coast media claims that Gillum will ride a blue wave to victory is that even liberals south of Palm Beach feel conflicted about Gillum, owing to his Sanders-style socialism.
“The libs in South Florida don’t like high taxes any more than conservatives in North Florida,” noted a bartender. “They may not turn out for Gillum. A lot of those wealthy liberals prefer fiscally conservative candidates.”
“The Democrats chose the worst possible candidate for Florida,” he continued. “He is anti-gun, anti-cop, anti-Israel, and pro-sanctuary cities. How does that work in Florida?”
Had the Dems nominated a centrist, they would have a much better chance of winning. Instead, they nominated a raging left-winger who has signed an anti-police pledge and wants a president (who won Florida) to be impeached. In the CNN debate, DeSantis effectively spelled out the dire implications for Florida if it makes Gillum, who is the ideological kin of Maxine Waters, governor. The benefits of a governor who can call up the president and lobby him on behalf of Floridian interests versus a cheap-shot activist who is boycotting Trump are not lost on Floridian business owners.
“If Floridians vote Gillum in, they are not paying attention,” said a cigar store attendant. “He will be a disaster.” Another gentleman chipped in, “He is also a crook. He has a lot of baggage.” Indeed, if anyone deserves to be impeached, it is Gillum, who as Tallahassee mayor has run the city recklessly, in part to benefit his corrupt cronies.
“I remember how corruptly he behaved during the 2016 hurricane, when he wouldn’t let out-of-state power companies in to help Tallahassee because that was going to cut into the business of his buddies,” said the cigar store attendant.
DeSantis spent much of the Sunday debate noting the staggering number of murders in Tallahassee. Gillum couldn’t deny it, so he just tried to change the subject. How ironic it would be if New Yorkers-turned-Floridians were to elect an ACLU-loving progressive no different than the Big Apple’s Bill de Blasio. Could it happen? Not if DeSantis continues to run a hardheaded campaign, focused on Florida-centric issues. During the CNN debate, DeSantis kept his eye on that ball impressively. He came off as what he basically is: a serious-minded military veteran and former prosecutor. That should wear well throughout a state populated by numerous retired soldiers.
A business owner in downtown Daytona Beach also expressed skepticism to me about Gillum’s stance on fiddling with Medicare, which he says won’t play well with anxious seniors who fear government rationing. “He may not even win the legal immigrant vote,” he added. “Floridians who came from Cuba won’t vote for him and a lot of legal Hispanics don’t like the amnesty policies Gillum favors.”
When DeSantis asked Gillum on Sunday night if he would hand illegal immigrants convicted of crimes over to ICE, Gillum evaded the question. Gillum, in fact, is in favor of abolishing ICE.
Sure, a Joe Manchin could win in Florida. But Gillum? Quietly, the Republicans are “coming together,” said the aforementioned cigar store attendant. “But Democrats look lost and crazy.”
Gillum isn’t the answer to that problem. He is simply a sorry symbol of it.