Andrew Gillum cast his vote in Florida’s close governor’s race in a Roman Catholic Church meeting hall in Tallahassee’s northern suburbs, saying he was focused on making history, but also on the need to win.
“I’m extremely excited to have just — I think I can reveal — cast a vote for myself,” Gillum told reporters, surrounded by his wife, R. Jai, and their three small children.
“This has been a long journey — 21 months moving across the state of Florida, talking to everybody that we could meet.”
That included voters in the Panhandle, a deep red section struggling to recover from Hurricane Michael. An area, he conceded, not likely to be rich in votes for him.
“But that’s OK. What I want people to know — even in the deepest red areas — that I want to be their governor, too. In order for that be true, you’ve got to go there, you’ve got to hear from people, you’ve got to talk to folks and let them know that you plan to work on their behalf, too.”
Gillum and his family arrived at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church at 10:03 a.m. and emerged from voting about 15 minutes later. He then spoke to the press.
Asked about the message from Republicans Donald Trump and Ron Desantis that a Gillum election would hurt Florida’s economy, the mayor noted that 44 percent of Floridians can’t make ends meet, and 36 counties are economically worse off than in 2007.
“What we’re going to do is grow an economy where people can work one job instead of two or three jobs in order to make ends meet,” he told reporters. “We’re going to lean into the kind of economy where folks can earn enough where they can not only pay their bills, they can save up enough to take a vacation every once in a while.”
And what about the historical implications should Gillum become Florida’s first African-American governor?
“Us winning tonight, I think, will send a message to Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis, as well — that the politics of hatred and of division, of separation, that they’ve come to an end.
“At least in this election, that’s what we’re going to show. That people are going out and they’re voting for something and not against. And by voting for something, we’re returning the politics of decency and what’s right and what’s common between all of us,” Gillum said.
“We’ll worry about history later, but today we’re working to win.”
Has the nasty turn the campaign has taken overshadowed the issues?
“I am extremely proud that we ran a campaign focused on expanding access to health care, paying teachers what they’re worth, leaning into the green economy,” Gillum said.
“We’re really, at every turn — in spite of all the distractions — tried to keep voters in the state focused on what matters. I believe that is what’s going to allow us to walk away with a win today.
“I’m looking forward to then turning around and going back to those voters whose votes I didn’t get and letting them know that I plan to be a governor for them, too.”