Shortly after Andrew Gillum introduced his former primary opponent, Chris King, as his running mate Tuesday morning, the Florida Democratic Party posted the following message on its Twitter page:
“Together, Mayor @AndrewGillum and @ChrisKingFL represent the future our state: energetic, innovative, and ready to fight for Florida’s working families. #WinningTicket”
The Democrats could have added one more word to its description: progressive.
The Gillum-King ticket is being called the most progressive in Florida political history.
During the primary, Gillum proposed providing Medicare to all Floridians, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Both proposed legalizing marijuana, while King suggested abolishing the death penalty and imposing a “bullet tax” that would generate revenue for gun safety measures.
“Chris has brought new and dynamic leadership to this state, and his innovative policy ideas and business acumen will help us move Florida forward,” said Gillum.
Republicans were quick to jump on Gillum’s agenda and that of his newly appointed running mate.
“This Florida Democrat Gubernatorial ticket seems light years away from the party of John F. Kennedy or even Bill Clinton — a socialist, scandal ridden mayor and a progressive, hypocritical millionaire,” said Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. “In stark contrast, the Republican Gubernatorial ticket boasts of an accomplished Iraq War veteran and Congressman, alongside a Cuban-American woman and former Speaker Pro Tempore ready to lead on Day 1. It’s time for sensible Floridians to #WalkAway from the most liberal ticket in Florida political history, and keep our state on its current path of prosperity.”
The stark contrast between Gillum and his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, is raising the question can a liberal ticket for governor win in a state that has been controlled for more than two decades by Republicans?
“For 20 years the Republican Party has sold out everyday people to the special interests,” said Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan. “A Gillum-King Administration is going to create more opportunity for Floridians, including better-paying jobs, investments in public education and workforce training, while a radical DeSantis-Nuńez ticket will take health care away from Floridians and rob our public schools of the support they need.”
Hans Hassell, a Florida State University political science professor says a liberal gubernatorial ticket is capable of winning in Florida if it can motivate its base to get out and vote in November. He says that could explain Gillum’s choice of King for his running mate — to solidify the base.
Hassell says, in today’s world of politics, campaigns are moving away from trying to persuade voters to vote for their candidate and, instead, are focusing on motivating their bases to turn out on election day.
“I think that’s especially true for a midterm election when turnout is going to be lower,” said Hassell. “You want to drive your supporters to the polls, rather than trying to convince people who may or may not actually show up.”
Hassell says it’s a strategy that has worked in other purple states.
“The strategy has worked in other places, including other swing states, and so I don’t see any reason why this wouldn’t be a feasible plan here in this particular electoral situation,” Hassell added.
The race for governor will come down to which party does a better job of getting its base to the polls come November. You can be sure the state GOP is working to mobilize its base as well.
“Andrew Gillum’s choice of Chris King is being heralded by national media outlets as “the most liberal in state history” and we agree,” said Ingoglia. “This socialist/progressive “dream team of bad ideas” has a total of zero legislative experience and it shows. All you have to do is watch their debates as proof.”