On November 6, the 2018 Midterm Elections will take place. Americans spanning the nation will head to the polls, casting ballots for a bevy of gubernatorial and congressional candidates. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott’s office has been rendered vacant due to his pursuit of Democrat Bill Nelson’s seat in the U.S. Senate. As the race to succeed Scott draws to a close, two outsiders who clinched their respective nominations in stunning upsets of moderate candidates are bidding for the the governorship— Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis.
Ron DeSantis, an Iraq War veteran and Yale graduate, has served in the House of Representatives for six years, successfully establishing a reputation as a staunch conservative. On October 31, President Trump rallied with DeSantis in Naples, urging voters to elect him as governor.
Running against Congressman DeSantis is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. He has been endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders and championed by Democratic Party officials. On November 2, former President Obama visited Miami for a campaign stop with Gillum and incumbent Senator Bill Nelson.
In the last few months, mudslinging between the two candidates has greatly intensified, but began in the final days of August. When Congressman DeSantis appeared on Fox News for an interview after he defeated rival Adam Putnam in the Republican primary, he was questioned about his Democratic opponent. After praising Gillum for being “an articulate candidate” and “charismatic,” DeSantis turned to the Florida economy, stating, “Let’s build off the successes of Governor Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases.”
As Gillum is African-American, the mainstream media snatched up the Congressman’s comments, asserting this was a dog-whistle to white supremacists through the use of the term “monkey,” in the form of a verb. This commenced a campaign which has been plagued with accusations of racism directed towards DeSantis, and allegations of corruption targeted at Mayor Gillum. According to the Tampa Bay Times, new reports have indicated that while in office, Gillum accepted tickets for Broadway hit “Hamilton” from an undercover FBI agent who claimed that he was looking for a real estate development opportunity in Tallahassee. Gillum’s government is now at the center of an ongoing federal investigation.
However, in spite these controversies, what continues to matter most in Florida’s gubernatorial elections is whose policies will work in the state’s best interests, particularly on the issues of the economy, healthcare, and gun control.
Under the governorship of Rick Scott, unemployment has fallen in Florida from 7% to 3.7% in the last half decade according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Gillum’s suggested hike in the corporate tax rate, from 5.5% to 7.75%, about one percentage point lower than California’s 8.84%, would disincentivize business investment in Florida, and, with the mayor’s ideal increase in Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, thousands of jobs would be placed in jeopardy. In contrast, DeSantis opposes tax hikes in the state of Florida and outlines the need to cut regulatory burdens on small business— the lifeblood of the Floridian economy. Moreover, DeSantis supports Amendment 5, which requires a super majority of the Florida legislature to vote in favor of raising taxes.
On the front of healthcare, DeSantis backs Florida’s Medicaid managed-care system, which curbs excessive budgetary spending on health programs while coordinating to provide quality care for enrolled individuals. Gillum supports Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All,” legislation and has suggested creating a “confederation of states” in order to combat the immense fiscal burdens of the program, which would bury Floridians in debt if implemented.
Regarding gun control, DeSantis is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. The Congressman says he would have vetoed a bill passed by the Florida legislature that raised the age to purchase a firearm in the state to 21. He justified this opposition by arguing that the Congress was picking winners and losers when it came to rights. “We wouldn’t say if you’re 18 or 20 you don’t have a Fourth Amendment right, and police can search your house without a warrant.”
Gillum has taken a starkly different approach, earning an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association. He has repeatedly called for a ban on “assault weapons.” When pressed to define the term, he responded, “Any gun that can fire off 45 rounds of artillery in less than 60 seconds … is a weapon of war and does not belong on our city streets.”
Polls currently title this race a “toss-up,” and, with the election just a few days away, it is virtually impossible to predict who will be victorious. However, one thing remains certain: both candidates believe in strictly different ideologies and you should vote based on which candidate lives up to your ideal for Florida.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.