MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — The last two Florida governor’s races have been extremely tight and this year’s contest between Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is expected to be no different.
When Florida voters go to the polls on November 6, they will choose between DeSantis, one of President Trump’s biggest supporters in Congress, and Gillum, who supports universal health care.
One day after the August primary, DeSantis said Florida should not “monkey up” the election — language that drew accusations of racism because Gillum is black.
Trump also has taken to Twitter to bash Gillum, whose campaign must contend with an FBI probe of a redevelopment deal in Tallahassee involving an ally of Gillum’s.
The candidates are opposed on nearly every issue – guns, education, immigration, health care and more.
On education, DeSantis has vowed to expand the state’s private school voucher program while at the same time pledging to spend more on classrooms by making cuts elsewhere in the education budget. DeSantis also wants to take a closer look at what the state is teaching in schools and what type of textbooks are used, even though the GOP-controlled Legislature has tinkered with this in the last several years. DeSantis also wants to “stop Common Core” — the standards adopted by 45 out of 50 states as a way to improve education — but the steps he’d take to unwind them is unclear.
Gillum is calling for a proposed $1 billion increase in the state’s corporate income tax. He wants to use the extra money to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $50,000 and bring overall salaries to the national average. He also wants to spend more on early childhood programs and on vocational training.
On the environment, DeSantis supports construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The reservoir, he said, would provide a natural filter to unhealthy nutrients and pollutants that harm the Everglades. The plan calls for researchers to study the causes of a red tide epidemic that has plagued Florida’s coastlines. Additionally, DeSantis said he would continue restoration of the Everglades, fund land conservation, combat beach erosion and protect water supplies. DeSantis also said he opposes offshore oil drilling in the state.
Gillum has stressed tackling climate change as the top environmental threat facing Florida, emphasizing lowering carbon emissions and pushing for cleaner solutions such as solar energy. The Democrat also has said he would make a priority out of cleaning up the Everglades and dealing with toxic algae blooms. Gillum’s campaign website also declares, “We have an obligation to do something now, so we don’t leave our children and grandchildren a planet that is damaged and polluted.”
On the economy, Gillum supports a $15 minimum wage, greater access to health care, and an increase in tax on corporations to bolster spending. DeSantis supports a menu of low taxes, streamlined regulations, a smaller bureaucracy and will “rein in litigation” to stimulate economic growth.
On guns, DeSantis supports legislation to allow Floridians with concealed weapons permits to carry guns openly and on college campuses. DeSantis would have vetoed the three gun-control measures the Legislature approved after the Parkland High School massacre as a violation of Second Amendment rights. DeSantis’ congressional voting record earned him an A rating from the National Rifle Association.
Gillum brandishes his NRA F-rating as a badge of approval. Gillum called for a series of gun-control measures after the Parkland massacre, including a ban on assault weapons, limiting the size of magazines, banning armor-piercing bullets and prohibiting guns to those with domestic violence felonies or misdemeanors.
On immigration, Gillum wants to replace Immigration and Customs Enforcement with what he said would be a “more compassionate and focused agency.”
DeSantis supports the construction of a wall to deter illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. One of his campaign commercials features him and his son building a border wall with blocks. DeSantis would require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers and vows to prevent any “sanctuary cities” in Florida.
On healthcare, Gillum calls for extending Medicaid coverage to 700,000 low-income Floridians under the Affordable Care Act. DeSantis voted repeatedly in Congress to repeal Obamacare. Gillum views health care as a “fundamental right” and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill to provide Medicare for all. DeSantis does not think “childless, able-bodied adults” should be eligible for Medicaid.
Gillum’s running mate is Chris King, an Orlando-area businessman who competed again him in the primary and came in fifth of five Democrats seeking the nomination. He spent several million dollars of his own money on the race. A Harvard-educated liberal Christian, King has never held public office, instead highlighting his business experience. He is CEO of Elevation, a company that invests in and manages affordable housing for seniors. King has said Democrats need to use Bible teachings to persuade Republicans to support policies helping the poor, the sick and the homeless. He criticized the sugar industry, called for a tax on bullets to pay for school safety, and would abolish the death penalty.
DeSantis running mate is Jeanette Nuñez, the first Cuban-American woman to be on the ballot for lieutenant governor.
Nuñez is a Kendall-area politician who was first elected to the state House in 2010 and recently served as Speaker pro tempore under House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
Florida Democrats have not won a governor’s race since Gov. Lawton Chiles won re-election in 1994. While Democratic President Barack Obama twice carried Florida, and Democratic Vice President Al Gore lost the state by only 537 votes in 2000, Democrats have seen a significant voter drop-off in mid-term elections.
Democrats hope Gillum can energize minorities, liberals and young voters. The election will also be test of whether President Donald Trump’s influence in elections can extend beyond a primary. DeSantis soundly won the nomination almost entirely on the backing of Trump. While Gillum has had a slight lead in polls since the primary, the race will be close if it’s anything like the last two mid-term elections.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)