Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded his historic race to become Florida’s first black governor Saturday evening — for good this time.
Gillum, a Tallahassee mayor who had elicited national excitement in a year of banner Democratic candidates, had previously conceded the race on election night, only to withdraw that when Florida announced a recount for the gubernatorial race.
Saturday, Gillum gave a short speech, congratulating his opponent, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, while vowing to remain politically active.
“This has been the journey of our lives,” said Gillum, who appeared in a Facebook video with his wife, R. Jai Gillum. “Although nobody wanted to be governor more than me, this was not just about an election cycle. This was about creating the kind of change in this state that really allows the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government.”
Speculation for a 2020 presidential bid has already begun to swirl around Gillum, a progressive who campaigned on a platform that includes Medicare-for-all and a $15 minimum wage and who made history just by becoming the state’s first black gubernatorial candidate. Gillum did not specify in his concession speech what his future plans might entail.
Recounts rarely change election results
Elections in Florida are almost always very close. And this year, even in a midterm cycle, was no different.
The state ordered a recount for both the gubernatorial and Senate race last weekend when the final vote tallies left the candidates in each race less than half a percentage point from each other. (Under Florida state law, a machine recount is triggered if the margin of victory is equal or less than 0.5 percent.)
Ultimately, however, it wasn’t enough: Gillum picked up only one vote in the recount. DeSantis will occupy the Sunshine State’s governor’s mansion, keeping it in GOP hands.
During the campaign, DeSantis clung tightly to President Donald Trump, except when Trump advanced a conspiracy theory about the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. DeSantis was also forced to disavow white nationalists who made racist robocalls attacking Gillum. The Democratic candidate won a lot of laudatory press coverage, but an FBI investigation into corruption in the state capital raised some uncomfortable questions for Gillum about a Broadway staging of Hamilton, a trip to Costa Rica, and a former college friend.
But DeSantis’s win is another sign that the Sunshine State is turning a deeper shade of red. Trump has stayed stubbornly popular, by his standards, in Florida. DeSantis succeeds Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who ran for Senate and squeaked out a win over Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson — assuming nothing drastic changes in that recount either.
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