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How GOP warnings about Venezuela and socialism could hurt Andrew Gillum in Miami

From the moment the November ballot was set, Republicans’ message about Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum’s platform has been consistent: Florida can’t afford to adopt his “socialist” agenda

It’s a dubious theme, but one that the GOP has stressed since President Donald Trump called the Tallahassee politician a “failed socialist mayor” only hours after Gillum won the Democratic primary. It’s a talking point that Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis and Gov. Rick Scott repeated Thursday in Orlando, and are guaranteed to broadcast until election day as Gillum pushes for a $15 minimum wage, Medicare-for-All and a 40-percent increase in the corporate tax rate to fund education.

How that characterization — ruled “false” Thursday by fact-checking website Politifact — will play around the state is hard to predict. But it’s highly likely that the strategy will be effective in heavily Democratic Miami-Dade County, where Republicans are courting hundreds of thousands of exiles who’ve fled communist and socialist nations in an effort to keep Gillum from running up the score.

“Socialism would be a disaster for Florida,” DeSantis said in Miami on Thursday night, drawing cheers from a crowd that packed the Manuel Artime Theatre in Little Havana to hear the conservative congressman speak. “We can’t let socialist policies win in this free land.”

Miami-Dade County is a Democratic stronghold, and turnout during the August primary was the highest in at least a decade, with nearly 300,000 ballots cast and Gillum scoring nearly 40 percent of the vote in a crowded and competitive field. Democrats, particularly those down the ballot in competitive races, are encouraged by Gillum’s ability to turn out unlikely voters during the August primary election.

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