Daytona Beach, FL – With only six days to go before Primary Election Day in Florida, the only non-millionaire in the gubernatorial race for either major party made his case for the job in Daytona Beach.
39-year-old Andrew Gillum – also the youngest candidate and the only African-American candidate in the Republican or Democrat fields – spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people at Heyn Memorial Chapel inside Bethune-Cookman University’s White Hall, urging them to support him and bring as many people as they could to the polls on August 28th.
“Let Florida be the state that reminds the rest of the nation that all is not lost,” Gillum told the crowd, a statement made after he called out U.S. President Donald Trump for being “morally and ethically bankrupt” and Florida Governor Rick Scott for hurting public education and the environment during his tenure.
Before Gillum – a Democrat who is the current mayor of Tallahassee – arrived at the chapel in his big tour bus, he got a pair of endorsements from two notables in the crowd: a fellow mayor in Daytona Beach’s Derrick Henry and his brother, Daytona Beach State House Representative Patrick Henry.
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Both urged the crowd – mostly BCU students and faculty, including interim President Hubert Grimes – to back Gillum, a Florida A & M University graduate who joked about being in enemy territory once the crowd gave him an enthusiastic welcome. Both schools are traditional HBCU’s – which stands for Historically Black Colleges & Universities – and its sports teams play each other often since both are in the same conference (MEAC).
Speaking to reporters after the rally, Gillum said Mary McLeod Bethune’s lasting impact on the black community was a reason he wanted to do a campaign stop at the school she founded.
“Even though I’m from a rival institution, we all have to acknowledge and embrace the rich contributions that Mary McLeod Bethune [has] made to the state of Florida and to the nation,” Gillum noted. “By virtue of that, I’m standing on her legacy.”
Once the rivalry jokes were put aside, Gillum laid out his platform in broad strokes to the crowd. He called for more investment in public education, a $15 minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, repealing the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law and making it easier for those with criminal records to get jobs and become productive members of society.
Even though most polls show him trailing many of the four other Democrat candidates – former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, South Florida billionaire Jeff Greene and Orlando businessman Chris King – Gillum does have some wind in his sails.
He won the backing recently of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, leading to a bump in the double-digit range in many recent polls and significant financial investments from progressive groups and large donors to left-wing causes like billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros.
Gillum’s bus tour moved on for a rally in Kissimmee and events in South Florida – where he’s from originally – before making his way back to Tallahassee to cast his vote next Tuesday.