Andrew Gillum

Poll: Voters meh on Fla guv race

Agriculture Commish Adam Putnam and Fox News darling Congressman Ron DeSantis are neck-and-neck, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has a slight edge over former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll.

“Right now, the only things that are certain about Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial primaries are that the outcomes are far from certain, a lot of money is going to be poured into these two very competitive races and the voters are not fully tuned in,” pollster Brad Coker said in a press release announcing the poll results.

On the Democratic side in the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who’s term-limited out of office this year, Graham captured 20 percent of the vote, while 17 percent of Dems said they’re backing Levine. Ten percent of likely Democratic voters support Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and 4 percent are behind Chris King.  And nearly half of likely Dem voters — a whopping 49 percent — are undecided.

On the GOP side, 43 percent of likely Republican voters haven’t yet made up their minds, the poll found. Statewide, 27 percent of GOP voters back Putnam, while 23 percent are for DeSantis. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who hasn’t announced if he’s running yet, captured support from 7 percent of those polls.

The Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy survey of 500 likely Democratic voters and 500 likely Republican voters was conducted from Jan. 29 through Feb. 1. The margin of error was +/- 4.5 percent.

The current results largely reflect name recognition and none of the candidates appear to be hampered by high negative ratings from their party voters.

Here’s more from Coker:

It is interesting to note that both front-runners have leads that are smaller than their recognition advantages. Graham, the daughter of former Governor & Senator Bob Graham, has an 8-point name recognition margin over Levine, but just a 3-point lead.

Putnam, the only candidate to have run statewide, has a name recognition advantage of 7-points over DeSantis, but only a 4-point lead. Graham’s total recognition of 65% among Democrats is likely lower than many insiders would expect, but her father’s name has not appeared on the state ballot in 20 years. Putnam has only 63% recognition among GOP voters, as his position in the state cabinet is low profile.

Traditional expectations in primary elections based on insider baseball no longer apply in a growing and ever-changing state. As both parties have polarized, establishment backing is no longer a great advantage.

Corcoran anti-sanctuary state video: “race-baiting” or simply red meat?

House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s political committee dropped a new video Monday that plays up his conservative creds, immigration-style.

The 30-second screed, entitled “Preventable,” dishes up a serving of GOP red meat by excoriating “sanctuary cities.”

The campaign-ish video might put to rest any (remaining) questions about whether the the Land O’ Lakes Republican intends to run for governor.

The video opens by alluding to the 2015 killing of Kathryn Steinle along Pier 14 in the Embarcadero district of San Francisco by depicting a bearded man in a hoodie pointing and firing a handgun at a woman walking the sidewalk of a suburban community.

A voice-over by Corcoran states: “A young woman, gunned down by an illegal immigrant who should’ve been deported but was protected by a sanctuary city.”

The video than fades to Corcoran, who is in his final House term and has said he’s waiting until after the Legislative session to make an announcement regarding his political future, who personalizes Steinle’s story.

When he heard of Steinle’s death, “I thought about my own daughter Kate,” Corcoran, a father of six, says.

“Incredibly, some Tallahassee politicians want to make Florida a sanctuary state,” a seemingly incredulous Corcoran, shown with his arm draped around Kate’s shoulders, says. “On my watch, Florida will never be a sanctuary state.”

The Republican-dominated House voted 71-35 on Jan. 12 in favor of a measure (HB 9) that would ban “sanctuary cities’ in the state. A similar version in the Senate (SB 308) has its first appearance before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Worth noting: A jury last month found Jose Ines Garcia Zanate not guilty of second-degree murder charges in Steinle’s death. Garcia Zanate said he found the gun on the pier and that it accidentally went off. Authorities confirmed the bullet ricocheted off the ground before striking Steinle.

The video drew  strong rebuke from the campaign of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for governor.

Gillum’s campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan, who called the video “race-baiting,” said it epitomizes “everything that’s wrong with politics today.”

“In the age of Trump, Corcoran is vilifying immigrants,” Burgan said in a press release. “It’s a vile ad that seeks to divide us against one another, and the Speaker ought to be ashamed of himself. Mayor Gillum is running a substantive, progressive campaign on the issues facing everyday Floridians, and we encourage the Speaker to do the same when he finally joins the race.”


By Dara Kam and  Jim Turner.

Gillum targets students in ‘Back to School’ tour

Calling youngsters “the brightest lights of our future,” Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will begin a “Back to School” tour on Tuesday as part of his Democratic campaign for governor.

Gillum will kick off the tour at his alma mater, Florida A&M University, but plans to visit another dozen universities, colleges and schools through October.

“I did some of my first organized work in politics when I was an undergraduate at Florida A&M University, and from my earliest days I’ve seen young people take on the biggest issues facing them,” Gillum said in a statement.

Gillum’ will make stops at FAMU, the University of South Florida, Stetson University and the University of Central Florida this week. Next week, he’ll hit Barry University and Florida International University on Monday and the University of North Florida on Tuesday. The Tallahassee mayor plants to appear next month at the University of Florida, the University of Tampa, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College. He’ll wind up to the tour late in October at Gulf Coast State College.

Here is Gillum’s full statement:

“Our young people are the brightest lights of our future — they speak into existence things they haven’t yet built, and create community with other people they’ve never encountered. They have a powerful role to play in our state, and that’s why I’m thrilled to see them on the campaign trail over the coming weeks.

“I did some of my first organized work in politics when I was an undergraduate at Florida A&M University, and from my earliest days I’ve seen young people take on the biggest issues facing them. That’s why we’ll be talking about higher education accessibility and affordability, infusing our public education with SHOP 2.0 vocational training, creating an economy that puts people first, protecting and expanding access to quality and affordable healthcare, and confronting our climate change crisis. We’ll talk about the need for healing and unity across our country and especially on college campuses, and the need to be civically engaged in your community. I’m thrilled to be going ‘Back to School’ this fall!”

By Lloyd Dunkelberger

Andrew Gillum’s campaign manager, finance director gone

In what could be a sign of a rocky road ahead for the Tallahassee mayor, it’s splitsville for Andrew Gillum and both his campaign manager and finance director.

Gillum, a Democrat running for governor in what could be a heated primary against former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, has already faced some unwelcome headlines after federal officials subpoenaed records related to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

On Friday, Gillum’s political staff issued a press release announcing the departure of campaign manager Phillip Thompson as well as deputy campaign manager and finance director Brice Barnes.

The announcement, issued by Gillum campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan, attempts to put a positive spin on the staff turnover.

“Both have been instrumental to our campaign’s early success, including raising $1.2 million in the first three months, earning more than two dozen endorsements around the state, and putting Mayor Gillum on the path to success. We wish them both the best in their next pursuits,” Burgan said.

Civil rights pioneers paved the way for today’s politicos

Fifty-seven years ago Patricia Stephens Due spent 49 days in the Leon County Jail rather than pay a fine or post bail after her arrest for sitting at a “whites only” Woolworth’s lunch counter in Tallahassee.

Due, who was a Florida A&M University student, went on to become a prominent civil rights leader in Florida, participating in more civil disobedience events leading to more arrests as she fought against segregation and for full rights for African-American citizens.


Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carrol and John Due

Due, who died in 2012, former state Sen. Arnett Girardeau of Jacksonville and Orlando civil rights leader Willie H. Williams were inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame this week.

The event drew some of the top African-American leaders in Florida, including former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who was the keynote speaker; former state Sen. Tony Hill of Jacksonville; former state Rep. Alan Williams of Tallahassee; state Sen. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville; and state Sen. Daphne Campbell of Miami.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who has a chance to become Florida’s first African-American governor, said civil rights pioneers like Due, Girardeau and Williams were critical in helping Florida improve its racial equality.

“We have to all submit and admit that but for their work, but for their service, but for their sacrifice, we couldn’t enjoy this view,” Gillum told the audience gathered on the scenic 22nd floor of the Florida Capitol. “We couldn’t sit in a room as diverse as the one we get to sit in but for their service.”

“Here in the city of Tallahassee we have a very, very strong legacy and important place in the history of civil rights in Florida,” Gillum added.

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger

Poppa was a rollin’ stone? Gillum ready to hit the road again

Sometimes in politics, you really are just taking some family time.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat who’s running for governor in 2018, announced Thursday that he will soon get back to campaigning shortly after the birth of his son Davis last week.
Gillum — already the father of twins — will appear next weekend at the “Women’s March for Truth” in Miami, a voter-rich area that could be up for grabs in the Democratic primary, given that none of the party’s high-profile candidates hails from that area.
The mayor also took some time in the Thursday’s statement announcing his campaign-trail return to blast away at President Donald Trump, already emerging as one of the Democrats’ top foils in the 2018 midterms.
“We must say with one clear voice: President Trump and his Administration’s behavior are far outside the bounds of acceptable or normal, and we all need the truth about their actions,” he said.
If you feel like Gillum hasn’t actually been out of campaign mode for long — well, that’s because his operation has kept up the pace of statements and endorsements. This week alone, the campaign has rolled out the support of former U.S. House and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro — a rising star in the national Democratic party — and state Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who will lead his party in Florida’s upper chamber starting next year.
The mayor has also been churning out statements on topics like an administrative decision affecting Haitian refugees and a controversial Republican health care bill in Congress — not to mention a blog post on failed legislation, which Gillum opposed, to pre-empt local government ordinances.
But now, the mayor is ready to hit the road again. Though, doubtless, there will be plenty of fatherly things to do when he returns home.