ORLANDO, Fla. – Yesterday, the Palm Beach Post endorsed Mayor Andrew Gillum for governor in “ As gov, Gillum will move state forward for all Floridians.” Read the full editorial below:
With the nearing November election, Florida has the chance to change course for the first time in a generation. Voters seeking fairness and compromise can begin to loosen Republicans’ 20-year control of state government. And by rejecting one of President Donald J. Trump‘s favorites, they can repudiate the divisive policies and rhetoric threatening to hurtle our state backwards.
The Post Editorial Board endorses Andrew Gillum for governor. True, we chose former Congresswoman Gwen Graham in the primary, believing her the most electable of the five Democratic candidates for the general election. And Graham is much more of a centrist Democrat than the Tallahassee mayor. Gillum, in fact, is by far the most boldly progressive candidate ever to run as a major party candidate for Florida governor.
But we were wrong about that electability. Gillum’s surprise victory in the primary was a signal that his lesser funded campaign had struck a chord. His performance on the campaign trail since then has confirmed it. For a liberal, African-American candidate to draw overflow crowds in conservative bastions like Sarasota County, something must be in the air. That thing is a surge of hope for a new chapter in Florida governance, one that emphasizes the needs of average citizens, not corporations and the very rich.
Ron DeSantis, the former congressman from Jacksonville who made his name as a Trump disciple on national TV, is all wrong for the job of leading this state. The Republican candidate seems to spend more time in front of Fox News cameras than coming up with thoughtful solutions to Florida problems or mixing with Florida citizens. On Friday, he finally released an uninspiring economic platform, and we’re still waiting for his plans for health care or transportation.
Gillum, on the other hand, has done much more in his career than posture. As the mayor of the city with Florida’s fastest-growing per-capita economy, the 39-year-old has grappled with real-world challenges of governance and gained real-world understanding of the needs of people.
On issue after issue, Gillum has better ideas on moving Florida in a better direction. For starters, he wants to see much more spending on public education – by far the best way to build a stronger economy, the only long-term answer to mass incarceration, and long overdue in a state that ranks 42nd in per-pupil spending. He would raise teacher salaries and invest in early childhood education and modern vocational training. DeSantis emphasizes school choice.
Gillum wants to raise $1 billion for K-12 public schools by increasing the corporate tax rate to 7.75 percent from 5.5 percent, which would affect only the largest 2 percent to 3 percent of businesses. He won’t get that from the Republican-controlled Legislature, but it’s a strong opening position to invest heavily in the state’s future. Gillum would welcome the legalization of marijuana as another rich source of revenue.
Gillum wants to expand Medicaid as provided under the Affordable Care Act, believing it unconscionable that Gov. Rick Scott has denied health insurance for more than 1 million Floridians, even though Florida business leaders had pushed GOP lawmakers to fashion a compromise. Gillum also proposes a state law to prevent insurers from denying applicants because of pre-existing medical conditions.
Gillum believes we must take steps to fight climate change — a game-changing position, given the stubborn climate denial of the Scott administration — by transitioning to clean energy as soon as possible. He’ll rebuild environmental protections weakened by the Scott and Trump administrations.
Gillum vows to break the National Rifle Association’s grip on state politics and work across the aisle for sensible gun safety laws.
DeSantis takes opposite – and extreme — positions on just about every point.
We are aware that Gillum is campaigning under the cloud of an FBI investigation into lobbyists’ influence at Tallahassee’s City Hall. Gillum has been told he is not a target of the probe.
Whatever ethical lapses may be at issue in the Tallahassee investigation, none can be as egregious as DeSantis’ repeated decisions to share the stage with white supremacists or to smear Gillum as an anti-Semite because he opposed positions of Israel’s government. DeSantis’ conduct is that of a politician who preys on fears and exploits tribal loyalties – the divisive formula from the Trump playbook that should have no place on the campaign trail, let alone earn entry to our Governor’s Mansion.
The rise of Andrew Gillum produces the possibility of exhilarating change for Florida. Change that would mean better funding public schools, taking action against existential threats to our environment like sea level rise and red tide, and promoting a fair economy that doesn’t leave behind hard-working Floridians.