Florida is setting up for an election between two very different candidates and ideologies in the governor’s race: Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee for the Democrats and Rep. Ron DeSantis for the Republicans. They couldn’t be more different if you were asked by Central Casting to choose two polar opposites, and that seems to be the theme for the election as a whole, from governor down to local contests.
Andrew Gillum is African-American, setting up the possibility of being the first black governor of the state, and got backing from Bernie Sanders. He came from behind to win in a field that included Gwen Graham, a one-term Congress-person and the daughter of former governor and senator, Bob Graham. Ron DeSantis came out of the woodwork to beat Adam Putnam, who has been running for the office since he was in high school, thanks to a tweet by Trump. He’s a Trumper all the way and this race is going to get really nasty really quickly; there are still parts of the state where whistling Dixie isn’t just an expression, and setting up an unapologetic liberal with a right-wing Trump-sucker will bring national focus, and that means lots of money for PAC ads and all sorts of shit.
Speaking of all sorts of shit, the Senate race between incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott has been set for months, and that too is going to be a study in contrasts. Mr. Nelson is old school; moderate, unassuming, and competent, while Gov. Scott has been a disaster for the environment, education, and still stinking of corruption.
Locally — as in Miami-Dade County — the race a lot of people have been focused on is the one for U.S. House District 27, which happens to be my district. Ileana Roz-Lehtinen, a somewhat moderate Republican, is retiring, and the primary race generated a lot of contenders, including David Richardson, who is openly gay. Donna Shalala, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration and then was president of the University of Miami from 2001-2015, came back to the area, dumped a ton of money into the race, and won. She will go up against Maria Salazar, guaranteeing that the district will send a woman to Congress.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about how Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, the Republican running for Congress who claimed that she was abducted by Christ-like aliens and still keeps in touch with them via telepathy did, she got 1,684 votes. The endorsement by the Miami Herald was a big help.