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Ron DeSantis rides Trumpism to victory, defeats Andrew Gillum in Florida (updated)

DeSantis flirted with Trumpism—and it paid off.


David Covucci


Published Nov 6, 2018   Updated May 21, 2021, 2:15 am CDT

Update: Andrew Gillum has retracted his concession after Florida’s election law triggered a recount of the state’s ballots.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) held off Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in a Florida governor’s race that pitted Trumpism against America’s burgeoning progressive movement.

Florida governor results 2018: DeSantis wins

DeSantis is one of the first candidates to run on the Trump model and ride it to victory.

He kicked off his campaign with an ad that was a tribute to President Donald Trump and flirted with the kind of charged language and behaviors Trump mainstreamed in American politics.

DeSantis was accused of running far-right Facebook groups, using racist language to discuss his opponent, who is Black, and maintaining ties to racist donors.

However, his conservative bonafides helped carry him in the state that went for Trump in 2016.

DeSantis was able to cast his opponent as a socialist who would enact policies that would bankrupt the state of Florida. DeSantis routinely pointed to Gillum’s time as mayor in Tallahassee to highlight how progressivism wouldn’t work in the Sunshine State. He routinely went after Gillum for the crime rate in Tallahassee and for his taxes on corporations, which funded public education.

DeSantis also benefited from the staunch support of Trump, who frequently attacked Gillum on Twitter, at one point calling him a “thief.”

Gillum conceded the race to DeSantis at 10:00pm CT in a speech to supporters.

DeSantis will replace Rick Scott, who left the governor’s office run for Senate.

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*First Published: Nov 6, 2018, 10:02 pm CST