There were two primary elections Tuesday in Arizona and Florida, and some primary runoffs in Oklahoma. The big news was out of Florida, where both parties’ nominees for Governor shocked the experts. On the Republican side, Rep. Ron DeSantis beat agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam by 20 points. Putnam had been ahead in the polls by 15 points until President Trump sent out one tweet endorsing DeSantis. It was another demonstration of the strength of Trump with the Republican base (one more came in Arizona, where Rep. Martha McSally won the nomination for Jeff Flake’s Senate seat after openly embracing Trump and conservatism and distancing herself from her previous criticism of Trump.)
Florida’s Democratic primary made even bigger news when underdog Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum edged out well-funded establishment favorite Gwen Graham. If elected, Gillum would be the first African-American Governor of Florida. But he’d also unquestionably be the most leftwing Florida Governor ever. His campaign received funds from rabidly anti-Trump leftist billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros, and his major endorsement was from Bernie Sanders, who said Gillum is leading “a political revolution” in Florida. He’s running on a platform of “Medicare for All,” raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, overturning the state’s “Stand your ground” self-defense law and impeaching the President.
In other words, there will be no better illustration of the relative appeal of Trump and conservatism vs. way-far-left “Democratic” socialism and the power of identity group politics than the Florida Governor’s race. Let’s hope there are enough Floridians who want to prevent their state from turning into New York (or Venezuela with theme parks) to prevent this from being another Florida nailbiter election. One hopeful sign: while Gillum made a huge media splash with his win, the Democratic race was split between seven candidates, so Gillum was able to win with only 34.4% of the vote. So far, that’s been about the upper limit of the appeal of most far left “Progressives,” even among the most engaged partisan Democrats.
Also worth noting: despite all the media talk about energized Democrats overpowering disheartened Republicans in a “blue wave,” about 109,000 more people voted in the Florida Republican Gubernatorial Primary than the Democratic Primary. Gillum will no doubt attract a very high percentage of the African-American vote. But will their understandable desire to see the first black Governor overcome their desire to continue the blooming economy and record low unemployment that Gillum’s leftwing policies will destroy faster than kudzu will choke out your flower garden?