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Liberal Democrat and Trump-backed Republican to face off for Florida governor

23 Comments
By John Whitesides and Letitia Stein

A liberal backed by Senator Bernie Sanders pulled off an upset in the Democratic primary for Florida governor on Tuesday, setting up a November showdown between the party's progressive wing and a Republican aligned with President Donald Trump.

Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, beat moderate Gwen Graham, a former U.S. representative and daughter of a prominent Florida politician, after running as an unabashed progressive who backed "Medicare for all," impeaching Trump and standing up to the National Rifle Association.

Gillum, 39, will square off in November against Republican U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis, a conservative who won his primary by touting his closeness to Trump, in one of the country's top governor's races.

The battle between progressives and conservative Trump Republicans will be closely watched by both parties for clues about the mood of voters and messaging ahead of 2020, when Trump could be seeking re-election against a liberal Democrat.

The Florida contest came on the last big day of state nominating contests before the Nov. 6 elections, when Democrats will try to pick up 23 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and two seats in the Senate to gain majorities and slam the brakes on Trump's legislative agenda.

In Arizona, Republicans chose U.S. Representative Martha McSally, an establishment favorite, NBC News projected, in a three-way Senate primary that became a battle to prove who was most loyal to Trump.

Businessman Kevin Stitt won the Republican nomination for governor in Oklahoma in a primary runoff race against the former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Stitt had aligned himself with Trump and questioned Cornett's allegiance to the president.

However, the biggest surprise came in Florida, where Gillum trailed Graham in the polls through much of the race but surged in the final stages with the backing of Sanders and high-profile liberal donors like George Soros and Tom Steyer.

Gillum, who would be the political battleground state's first black governor, emphasized his background as the son of a bus driver and construction worker and pledged to galvanize younger and minority voters who often sit out midterm elections.

"We have shown the rest of the country that we can be the David in the situation where there is a Goliath," he told supporters after his victory. "That you can be the non-millionaire, you can come from a working class family, and you can make your way to the top."

The conservative DeSantis easily won the Republican primary by highlighting his enthusiastic loyalty to Trump. DeSantis, who was endorsed by Trump, beat state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

"I am not always the most popular guy in D.C., but I did have support from someone in Washington. If you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, he lives in the White House with the pillars in front of it,” DeSantis told supporters after his win, noting he had spoken to Trump.

Florida will also host one of the country's top U.S. Senate races between term-limited Republican Governor Rick Scott, who won the Senate nomination against token opposition, and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Nelson ran unopposed for the nomination.

In Arizona, which Trump won by 4 percentage points in 2016, former fighter pilot McSally had led in opinion polls over former state Senator Kelli Ward and controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the Senate nominating battle.

The Arizona contest to replace the retiring Jeff Flake is considered one of the two top takeover opportunities for Democrats, along with Nevada, and could be critical to the balance of power in the Senate in November.

McSally is seen as a stronger general election candidate than either Ward or Arpaio, both hard-line conservatives. McSally has already launched advertising aimed at her Democratic opponent in November, U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema, who easily won nomination against token opposition.

Only five states remain to pick candidates after Tuesday's primaries before full attention turns to the November election, when all 435 House seats and 35 of the 100 Senate seats will be at stake.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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Trump's legislative agenda

which is what exactly? Learn how to read? Join the Russian Federation?? Cut all EPA funding and watch the USA burn?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

The Republican primary in Arizona is filled with some truly vile beings.

So many choices for Floridians and Arizonians.  Decisions, decisions. Who to pick? Racists, old racist garbage, crazy racists or boot licking racists.  

What a conundrum.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

The Republican primary in Arizona is filled with some truly vile beings.

And the Arizona Democrats....are there any by the way?

So many choices for Floridians and Arizonians. 

Yes, radical socialism/fascism vs capitalism/democracy

Decisions, decisions. Who to pick? Racists, old racist garbage, crazy racists or boot licking racists.  

That's why the Democrats really don't stand a chance

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

I don’t think Gillum was the best choice for Democrats, but even he should win against an evil Trump poodle.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

As a proud NRA member, I would vote for the Republican.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

@kawabe. As a proud NRA member, I would vote for the Republican.

Given how much the Russians have contributed in advertising fees to the NRA and other rightist organizations, plus the 'meddling' they've done to help Trump and other Republicans, do you agree with the slogan on these men's shirts, that you'd rather be Republican than Democrat?

https://www.rt.com/usa/435229-trump-rally-russia-tshirts/

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Correction above post:  that you'd rather be RUSSIAN than Democrat?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Rather be anything than Democrat.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The Orange imposter now promising violence if (when) the November landslide occurs...

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45340275

A stain on the anus of humanity this man and his cult followers....

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Yep those Trump backed candidates just can’t win, or so I heard.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I don’t think Gillum was the best choice for Democrats, but even he should win against an evil Trump poodle

There is No way Gillum will beat DeSantis. Mickey Mouse would have a better chance. There is No chance of Florida embracing a far left socialist especially with the large Cuban community.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Bass: And the Arizona Democrats....are there any by the way?

Lots of us!

But our chances grew slim when the GOP chose an establishmet Republican. We were hoping those Trump nut jobs Arpaio and Ward would win, but they got kicked to the curb.

And at least your racist boy Arpaio is buried and done in the state. So not all bad news.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Lots of us!

Ok, some transplanted from the other parts from the West Coast.

But our chances grew slim when the GOP chose an establishmet Republican. We were hoping those Trump nut jobs Arpaio and Ward would win, but they got kicked to the curb.

Thank God.

And at least your racist boy Arpaio is buried and done in the state. So not all bad news.

Was that supposed to make me feel bad? Well, but it’s better than the racist socialist Democrat winning, so I’m stoked.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

For national elections, I'm considering voting dem as a way to stop Trump's stupidity, perhaps get some impeachment happening.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Bass: Well, but it’s better than the racist socialist Democrat winning,

Ah, so you're happy that both the socialist Democrat and Arpaio lost to an establishment Republican.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Ah, so you're happy that both the socialist Democrat and Arpaio lost to an establishment Republican.

As much as I am a fan of the good sheriff, I’m ok with his loss. Better he loses and the socialist loss, in that case, I’ll take a Republican, at this point even an establishment one. I can hold my nose.

For national elections, I'm considering voting dem as a way to stop Trump's stupidity, perhaps get some impeachment happening.

And then what? The Senate won’t convict him, so what then?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Bass: Better he loses and the socialist loss

Sounds like you know politics in Arizona quite well

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Arpaio is proof that too much power centralized is a bad idea. Racial profiling, not respecting medical needs of prisoners, not providing normal female products for female prisoners and ignoring child abuse calls is unacceptable. He did these things systematically.

I liked some of the things he did. Jail shouldn't be comfortable or pleasant. I'm torn on the activist judge rulings about enforcing national immigration law.

Arpaio needed to be gone.

We don't know if the Senate will or will not find Prez guilty until we try. Then this is either over or we get a new, anyone-is-better, Prez. But I don't want him gone until Feb '19, even if Pence is a religious fanatic. Right-wing religious crazies need to be stopped just as much as the far left.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Sounds like you know politics in Arizona quite well

Pretty much.

We don't know if the Senate will or will not find Prez guilty until we try.

Try what? Make a crime when there was none?

Then this is either over or we get a new, anyone-is-better, Prez.

After 2024 we shall see.

But I don't want him gone until Feb '19, even if Pence is a religious fanatic. Right-wing religious crazies need to be stopped just as much as the far left.

As of now, it all probably won’t happen p.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Pretty much.

Cool.

So how did we manage to sneak a socialist Democrat into the Republican primary?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

So how did we manage to sneak a socialist Democrat into the Republican primary?

It wasn't the dems. It was life - brain cancer and a LGBT daughter. Got him looking at things differently.

I hope Trump doesn't make it passed 2020. Crimes at his level are determined by politics, not lowly judges.

As of now, it all probably won’t happen p.

You are likely correct. Just because something is difficult, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try, especially when it is the right thing to do.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Was that supposed to make me feel bad? Well, but it’s better than the racist socialist Democrat winning, so I’m stoked.

What makes you think Mr. Gillum is a racist? You seem to tie yourself in knots to explain why white people with a history of courting white supremacists can't possibly be racist, but when someone who is black becomes a prominent political figure, you accuse them of racism with no evidence.

I wonder why.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"I am not always the most popular guy in D.C., but I did have support from someone in Washington. If you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, he lives in the White House with the pillars in front of it,”

Sycophant.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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