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Renewed DeSantis push forces Gillum to play defense


w/ @KirbyWTweets and @ElizabethRKoh

For much of the first half of the general election campaign, Democrat Andrew Gillum has enjoyed a consistent if thin lead that few in his party might have expected when he won its nomination for governor.

But a renewed offensive from Republican rival Ron DeSantis has pushed the Tallahassee mayor’s campaign this week to parry on the economy, on Israel and on his record handling the city’s first hurricane in decades, in an early sign that the already narrow race may become even tighter.

Some of the defensive moves the Gillum campaign has had to make have been the result of its own missteps: The campaign let go of its director of youth outreach, Manny Orozco-Ballestas, last weekend after several offensive tweets from 2012 and 2013 surfaced, and a businessman brought onto a call with reporters to refute attacks on Gillum’s economic plan had to apologize Thursday for calling Florida a “s---hole” regarding government support to the needy.

But other moves — while the candidate has also been campaigning on red tide in Sarasota and on transportation in Orlando — have pushed back on the attacks aimed at the Democratic nominee this week, following the addition of longtime Republican operative Susie Wiles to help run the DeSantis campaign.

“Having a good defense is how you win championships,” said campaign adviser Kevin Cate, though he argued the Gillum camp was responding proactively, not reactively, to Republican attacks. “We’re outworking them on offense and certainly on defense, because we have the truth on our side.”

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