Andrew Gillum’s Secret Weapon, Or How Ghosts Are for Democrats
JACKSONVILLE, Fla – October 29, 2018
Eleven days before Election Day, more than 2 million Floridians have already cast ballots, either early or by mail. While that’s only 15% of registered voters, more ballots were cast by Thursday than voted early or absentee in the total August primary voting period.
No votes are actually counted until the polls close on Election Day, but analysts try to read the political tea leaves by analyzing the early voting pattern. Just over 60,000 more Republicans than Democrats had voted by Thursday evening, but about 350,000 ballots have been cast by voters not affiliated with any political party. Most of them will likely vote for Republican Ron DeSantis or Democrat Andrew Gillum rather than the reform candidate or one of four NPA candidates on the ballot for governor — but for which one?
Democrats have lost the last five governors races, mostly fielding cautious and conventional centrists from Tampa Bay — Bill McBride, Jim Davis, Alex Sink, and Charlie Crist. Between that track record and Trump’s upset defeat of Clinton, the divide between the Democratic establishment and the liberal base is especially sharp this year.
But Republicans should not rest on their laurels. It can’t be easy for Ron DeSantis, who has to contend with Andrew Gillum, maybe the most charismatic Democratic nominee in decades. And he is supported not only by the black population of Florida. On his side stands the spirit of his grandmother — she died in 1991, but she and her folksy maxims keep popping up on the campaign trail.
He invokes her all the time.
“My grandmother used to say, ‘A hit dog will holler,’” Gillum said after DeSantis lost his temper in a televised debate last week over a question about people with whom he associates.
"My grandmother used to say, ‘When you wrestle with pigs, you both get dirty, but the pig likes it.’" he said recently.
"My grandmother taught me that if we were going to get anywhere in life, we would get there together."
"As my grandmother used to say, ‘Always tell the truth,’ because when you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about lies. You don’t have to worry about covering up for lies.’"
"My grandmother used to say ‘crying shame.’ Because some shames are worth crying about."
"I can still hear my grandmother’s voice. She’d say, ‘Go to school. Mind your teachers. Get your lesson. And one day bring that education home. Bring it home for your little brother and your little sister, who don’t know what an education is yet. Bring it home for that little boy down the street that you play with. God knows where he’s going to end up. Bring it home for your mother and your father who get up every day and get out there and work on somebody else’s job.’”
Thus, Andrew Gillum tries to demonstrate that he comes from the people, that he is close to a simple American and his aspirations. This, of course, is not so. Andrew Gillum is Tallahassee mayor and his annual income is much higher than the average. Moreover, he has huge FBI problems: He had an undercover FBI agent pay for a fundraiser for his political action committee in 2016, new emails and records reveal. According to the documents originally requested by the Florida Commission on Ethics, undercover FBI agent “Mike Miller” was charged $4,386 from a restaurant then owned by former lobbyist Adam Corey.
Still, the old populist trick might work. The host of the mayor’s grandmother might add votes to his piggy Bank. The election is only 11 days away. We will be able to assess the effectiveness of her memory very soon.