DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) – Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum, the two men vying to be the state’s next governor, took the stage at Broward College for their second and final debate.
Right after the debate, join CBS4’s Jim DeFede online for a digital debrief about the issues the candidates discussed. That’s at 8 p.m. on CBSMiami.com and its social media platforms.
On Sunday in Tampa, the two scuffled over the economy, race and President Donald Trump. DeSantis, a former congressman, is an outspoken supporter of Trump. Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, is a frequent critic of the president.
DeSantis referenced a Trump talking point numerous times during the debate — calling Tallahassee a city overrun with crime.
“Under mayor Gillum’s leadership, Tallahassee is the most crime-ridden city in the entire state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “Last year Tallahassee had the highest number of murders in the history of the city. Andrew couldn’t keep Tallahassee safe, he’s not the guy to keep Florida families safe.”
Gillum was quick to point out DeSantis’ apparent tactics.
“Ron is being Don and that’s Donald Trump, neglecting all sense of reason and facts,” Gillum said. “I’m presiding over a city that has a five year low in our crime rate.”
The two also spoke about their different approaches to health care, the environment, the economy and immigration.
At one point, DeSantis brought up the FBI investigation in Tallahassee — one that Gillum said he is not named in.
“When I dealt with the FBI as a prosecutor I was working hand in hand with them to bring people to justice,” DeSantis said. “When Andrew deals with them, he deals with an undercover agent, posing as a contractor he was on a junket with, in New York City.”
“I am not under FBI investigation and neither is my city government,” Gillum said. “And what we have done is welcomed them in. If there is someone who’s done something wrong, they ought to be held fully accountable for their actions.”
Kevin Walsh is a political science professor at Broward College.
“I think DeSantis has more to make up from the last debate,” he said. “I think Gillum’s performance was stronger.”
Walsh says each candidate is battling for swing voters, and he believes this race is a proxy was for a larger issue across the country.
“This is a referendum on the Trump presidency,” he said.
Walsh expects the environment, and the state’s issue with toxic algae, to be a big issue during the debate.
“Gillum is going to try and portray DeSantis as once again in the bag for corporate sponsors and bought and sold by the polluters in the state of Florida,” he said.
Walsh believes DeSantis will continue to go negative as he is shown behind by a small margin in the polls. He expects DeSantis to hammer Gillum over allegations of an FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee and Broadway theater tickets for the mayor.
“It’s not about who bought the tickets, it’s about a climate of corruption and big money lobbying in the state capitol,” Walsh said.
Gillum has said he paid for all expenses related to trips he took to New York City and Costa Rica. The released documents include a text message from Gillum in which he confirms he’s being given free Broadway tickets from the man who turned out to be the undercover agent.
The Gillum campaign has since released a statement saying that Gillum paid for everything.
A new Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday showed Gillum over DeSantis 52-46 percent with two percent undecided. That is beyond the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error, but lower than last month’s poll where there was a nine-point difference.
Gillum has big leads among women, black, Hispanic and independent voters.
Women support Gillum 59 percent to 38 percent for DeSantis.
White voters back DeSantis 54-44 percent, and men back DeSantis 54-44 percent.
The winner of the November 6th election will replace Republican Rick Scott, who is barred from seeking a third term. Democrats have not won the office since 1994.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)