Bill Nelson won primary day in Florida. Why do I say that when Nelson was uncontested in his primary, and Rick Scott — sure to be Nelson’s toughest-ever opponent — romped on the GOP side? Because Nelson, a very lousy campaigner who has never faced a tough election and now has one, will be on a ticket with two dynamic candidates who will spur turnout: Andrew Gillum (Governor) and Sean Shaw (Attorney General).
One wrinkle: Both Gillum and Shaw are Black, and this will excite the racist vote, which is not to be discounted in Florida. The Very Loud dog-whistles have already begun, with the GOP candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis blowing one loud in clear in his first post-selection TV interview, so loud and clear that the roof fell on him, and even Fox had to run a corrective.
Gillum is running as a pragmatic progressive, which is just the right note for Florida. Gillum-DeSantis is going to be quite a race:
Florida’s Republican candidate for governor, Ron DeSantis, is a Trump-endorsed lunatic …. His most viral campaign ad included a shot of him teaching his child about “building the wall” between the United States and Mexico even though Florida doesn’t share a land border with any other country. He has already begun sniping at Gillum, but the state Democrats have finally elected someone who might be able to counter bad-faith attacks from the state’s ever-surging right wing.
That’s because Gillum is a new breed of candidate for the Florida Democrats. The party is frequently beset by leadership struggles and is often the butt of jokes among reporters for its near-constant ability to lose easily winnable races in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. Rick Scott, for example, won two terms despite being a white-collar criminal and Medicare fraudster. The state’s Democratic candidates since 2000 have been former Republican Charlie Crist, former banking executive Alex Sink, Clintonite “New Democrat” Jim Davis, and Central Florida’s forgettable Bill McBride. To say Gillum’s platform is more exciting than Crist’s is like saying a Sherman tank has more firepower than a slingshot. Whether or not you like Gillum, it’s fair to say the state hasn’t seen a gubernatorial candidate like him before.
I’m sending in my contribution tonight.