Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will win the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida, CNN projects, scoring a major victory for the party's progressive wing while taking another step toward becoming the state's first black chief executive.
Backed by Bernie: Backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and a coalition of progressive groups, Gillum upset former Rep. Gwen Graham who led in the polls for most of the campaign. He outlasted a field of five competitive candidates, in which he was the only non-millionaire — and only supporter of "Medicare for all" single-payer health care.
Democrats in the race, including billionaire Jeff Greene and the wealthy former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine, spent more than $100 million for the chance to wrest back control of the governor's mansion, which has been in Republican hands for two decades. Gillum got a late boost when liberal megadonors Tom Steyer and George Soros led a group that donated $650,000 to his affiliated political action committee.
As the primary neared, progressive groups — Indivisible Action, The Collective PAC, The New Florida Vision PAC and the Sanders-inspired Our Revolution among them — banded together to invest an additional $3.5 million in get out the vote efforts supporting Gillum, who campaigned as an outspoken critic of the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" gun law, which he said at a protest earlier this month "has no place in a civilized society."
In a statement Tuesday night, Sanders cheered Gillum's "vision" and cast Gillum as a leader in the broader progressive movement:
"No one person can take on the economic and political elites on their own. Tonight, Floridians joined Andrew in standing up and demanding change in their community. That's what the political revolution is all about and Andrew Gillum is helping to lead it."