Favorites of both the conservative and progressive movements scored surprising wins in Florida’s gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday, setting up a competitive clash come November.
On the Democratic side in Florida, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s victory was the most unexpected of the night, as he defeated centrist former Rep. Gwen Graham. His victory is one of the most significant progressive victories of the 2018 primary season — a surprise upset in a statewide race, to lead one of the biggest states in the country, which is one of the year’s top battlegrounds.
Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis won the Republican nomination, cruising to a nearly 20 point win over establishment-backed Adam Putnam, the state’s agriculture commissioner — a margin no one expected, boosted by his coveted endorsement from President Trump.
In Arizona, national Republicans got their pick in a top Senate race with Rep. Martha McSally emerging from a bitter GOP primary. She’ll face Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in one of Democrats’ best takeover chances during a midterm cycle where they’re largely playing defense.
“My daddy was a construction worker … and my mother drove a school bus,” Gillum said. “That kind of experience, I think, prepares me well for what many folks in our state are facing. In Florida right now, 44 percent of working people say they can’t earn enough to make ends meet.”
But he has also drawn support from Florida residents on the other end of the economic spectrum.
On Monday, actress Gabrielle Union, who also is the wife of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, tweeted her endorsement of Gillum.
“This is the man I’ll be voting for. Join me Florida!”
This is the man I'll be voting for. Join me Florida! https://t.co/NDKhDdB64k
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) August 26, 2018
Progressives have made inroads in Democratic primaries, but they’ve also lost plenty of races like the Florida governor’s race where there was an establishment alternative. Gillum stands out as the of the left’s biggest wins in 2018. Now he’s on to the general election.