The chairman of the 28-member Florida Legislative Black Caucus is endorsing Tallahassee's Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum to be the state's next governor, Gillum's campaign announced Tuesday.
"We can trust Mayor Gillum to be a fierce advocate for our community on so many issues -- from addressing climate change, to ensuring healthcare is accessible to the most medically-needy in our state, to protecting public education from for-profit charter schools and their friends in the Legislature," Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said in a statement provided by Gillum's campaign.
Gillum, 37, is the only candidate for governor who is African-American. He would be Florida's first black governor if elected and is the second African American to make a serious bid for the job, following Daryl Jones who lost a primary in 2002.
It's unclear how much sway Thurston's support might hold for Gillum among minority voters. Thurston, a former Broward state representative who is now a state senator, is not well-known statewide outside of having run unsuccessfully for attorney general a few years ago.
By comparison, one of Gillum's Democratic primary opponents scored a big endorsement last month that could matter significantly more. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham announced she had the formal support of civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, with whom she served during her one two-year term in Congress that ended in January.
Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times
Amid a crowded field of contenders for governor in 2018, Democrat Andrew Gillum is casting himself as the “slightly out of place” candidate who would bring years of government experience but also fresh ideas and “something different” than Florida has seen under two decades of Republican rule.
“It is our political leadership — or the lack thereof — that has failed us,” Gillum said Wednesday, speaking for nearly an hour in front of a couple hundred people at the Capital Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee. “We’ve had enough with slogans and showgames, enough with struggling to get ahead, enough with shrinking from our state’s challenges. ... Floridians need a champion again.”
Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, aimed to set himself apart from other Republicans and Democrats seeking to lead the nation’s third largest state, while also acknowledging his long odds against competitors who have more prominent names Floridians likely already know.
“I recognize this is more than a notion — to be on this journey,” Gillum said, when one Tiger Bay Club member bluntly asked Gillum if he’d settle for being just lieutenant governor.
“I don’t have a famous last name and I cannot stroke my own check to become the next governor of the state of Florida,” he said in an apparent reference to his Democratic primary opponents: former Tallahassee U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham — the daughter of Bob Graham, who is a former U.S. senator and Florida governor — and Orlando businessman Chris King, who this spring put $1 million of his own money into his campaign.
Gillum added: “I’m going to have to do this the old-fashioned way — that means going around, that means talking to people, that means asking people for their support, for their investment, for their belief that we can actually do it different.”
“If I become the Democratic nominee for governor, which I’m going to fight hard to accomplish, I believe I can go on and win this race. ... So, I’m running for governor,” he said, drawing applause from the room.
Gillum — who’s viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party and who spoke at the Democratic National Convention last summer — is trying to build up his name recognition across Florida as the 2018 race heats up.
Photo credit: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, talks to members of the Capital Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee before delivering a luncheon speech on Wednesday, May 31, 2017
In the wake of U.S. House Republicans voting last week to repeal Obamacare, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum says state lawmakers need to step up and enact protections that will safeguard Floridians' right to health care coverage.
"There's not a lot we can do about Washington, D.C.," said Gillum, who is the mayor of Tallahassee. "But in the mean time, what we ought to be doing is making sure we're providing every single protection possible in the state of Florida."
At a press conference in Tallahassee on Tuesday, Gillum said if he were elected Florida governor in 2018, he'd work with the Republican-led Legislature to pass a new state law that would prohibit health insurance companies from doing three things: Denying coverage based on individuals' pre-existing conditions, charging higher premiums for those conditions and charging higher premiums for women than men.
"We've got to make sure that in the state of Florida we stand up and say we're going to stop insurers from denying coverage from any individual with pre-existing conditions," Gillum said.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum — a Democrat running for governor next year — is accusing Republicans in the state House of having “a credibility problem.”
Speaking at a press conference today at the Florida Capitol about House Republicans' "schools of hope" legislation, Gillum said Republicans contradict themselves with their legislative priorities.
Gillum said that, for instance, while Republicans say they want to help students in failing schools by bringing in charter-operated "schools of hope," they’ve also proposed this session little to help those same communities, which are often neighborhoods with low-income families who are predominantly black or Hispanic.
Gillum noted that Republicans have proposed limitations on government welfare programs, such as food stamps, and they also have not prioritized early childhood education spending or investing in health care programs that help low-income families afford medical services.
"The Republican House, right now, is trying to take $200 million and put into the hands of their friends who are well-healed and well-connected," Gillum said referencing the "schools of hope" plan. "They want us to trust them on this issue — when by and by, and time and time again, they have turned the other direction when it comes to meeting the needs of the most indigent in this state."
Photo credit: Courtesy of CateComm
It’s been no big secret that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has had his eye on the Florida governor’s mansion, but now the Democrat is acknowledging it out loud.
Speaking Friday at the Central Florida Urban League’s Cornerstone Awards in Orlando, Gillum announced officially that he is “seriously considering running for governor.”
The announcement is not unlike recent ones by those of fellow Democrats, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and former Tallahassee Congresswoman Gwen Graham — who also have all-but-announced formal campaigns for 2018.
“I feel strongly that the direction our state government has gone these last 20 years is out of step with the majority of Floridians, from the environment to wages, to education and job creation,” Gillum said, according to prepared remarks. “I believe this is a moment that requires not just people who quietly agree on these issues, but people who are going to be champions, who will get out and lead on them.”
The 37-year-old Gillum is viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party. The affable African American politician was among the featured speakers at last summer’s Democratic National Convention and he has been a standout in Tallahassee city politics for 14 years.
However, Gillum faces some big obstacles if he does embark on a statewide campaign.
Photo credit: CateComm
Tallahassee Mayor (and potential 2018 gubernatorial candidate) Andrew Gillum said Monday that the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando back in June and Friday's shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport should be wake-up calls for Florida's lawmakers.
As the Legislature prepares to vet several bills in the 2017 session that would expand gun-owners' rights, Gillum is calling for a moratorium on "all gun deregulation bills until we find a solution to protect our communities."
"In light of back-to-back mass shootings in less than a year and the daily pain that gun violence inflicts on our cities, it is clear that attempts to weaken our gun safety laws have failed to keep Floridians safe," Gillum said in a statement provided to the Herald/Times. "No mother or grandmother should fear walking into an airport. No father, son, or daughter should lose their life for meeting those they love for a night out. No parent should lose sleep wondering if a stray bullet will take their baby that day."
"It is time to bring commonsense back to the Capitol by ending the attack on gun safety and passing reform measures that protect our families from harm," Gillum added. "Our prayers for the victims and their families should be matched by our vigorous actions to keep families safe from repeated incidents of gun violence."
Florida's Republican-led Legislature is unlikely to heed the call from Gillum and other gun-control advocates. Many members of legislative leadership are strident supporters of Second Amendment rights.
In the wake of Friday's shooting in Fort Lauderdale, two conservative Republican lawmakers -- Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia -- who had previously been proposing to lift the ban on concealed weapons in airport terminals doubled down on their proposal.
While their bills would not have prevented Esteban Santiago from killing five people and wounding six others, they argue that allowing Florida's 1.7 million concealed weapons permit-holders to carry in airport terminals could have, perhaps, given bystanders a chance to defend themselves.
Legislative committees begin meeting this week to start vetting bills filed for the upcoming 2017 session, which begins in March. Gun legislation is not scheduled to be heard this week.
Gillum's name is among a handful of Democrats who are said to be considering a run for governor next year. He's been outspoken lately against the gun lobby, including the NRA. The First District Court of Appeals is hearing oral arguments on Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by gun rights groups, who sued Gillum and other Tallahassee officials after they failed in 2014 to repeal a ban on guns in a city park.
Photo credit: City of Tallahassee
In advance of oral arguments before an appeals court next week, Tallahassee's Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum is taking aim at the gun lobby -- and using that as a stepping stone to launch a "grassroots effort" to protect local governments' control on an array of high-profile issues.
Gillum is among a short-list of Democrats believed to be considering a run for governor in 2018, and an initiative of this kind could help boost his name recognition outside the state's capital city.
Gun-rights groups sued Gillum and other Tallahassee officials a couple years ago when city leaders declined to repeal an ordinance prohibiting the shooting of guns in a public park. The lawsuit goes before the First District Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
In a post published Thursday on Medium, Gillum criticizes the NRA -- although Florida Carry, Inc. initiated the lawsuit -- and laments their "spending big money to take away local voices and local control, using tactics called preemption and super-preemption."
"We hope to set a precedent for challenging these 'super-preemption' overreaches," Gillum wrote. "Our partners recognize that if these threats are deployed today by the gun lobby, there’s nothing stopping special interests from coming after protections for immigrants, the LGBT community, the environment, and others. We want to stand up to these bullies everywhere they show up."
That's why Gillum says he's launching the "Campaign to Defend Local Solutions." He said the grassroots group wants to "send a message to state lawmakers" and has plans for events to address "looming threats on issues like minimum wage and health benefits, the environment, local hiring practices and water quality."
The campaign is using a hashtag (#DefendLocal) to promote itself on social media, and a website has been launched -- although, for now, the only information on it is a form to collect names, zip codes and email addresses of its supporters.
Besides Gillum, other Democrats said to be weighing campaigns for governor are former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando attorney John Morgan, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.