Andrew Gillum is an ambitious person. He ran to be the Chair of the Florida Democratic Party but lost to Ron Smith of Alachua County. He wanted to run for Congress, but Al Lawson declared for the position so he did not run. Lawson won the seat.
Mr. Gillum decided to run for Governor. He won the Democratic primary and narrowly lost the general election to Ron DeSantis.
Mr. Gillum is an orator. He can temporarily inspire people while making his remarks. An orator is impressive, but an organizer is more to my liking. Despite winning the nomination, I believe Mr. Gillum has feet of clay which will prevent him from moving forward in the future.
Many ambitious persons would rather continue an unnecessary fight rather than admit an error or back off a mistake.
Mr. Gillum, first as City Commissioner and later as Mayor, entered into a protracted fight with Dr. Erwin Jackson. Whether you personally like Dr. Jackson, the Doctor is a generous person. Recently, Dr. Jackson gave one million dollars of his money to FSU to support brain research.
Mr. Gillum may have been able to end this fight if he had been willing to either privately or publicly meet with Dr. Jackson with the goal of solving the problem. Mr. Gillum was not so willing. The FBI investigation of City Hall was a result of this failure to heal the rift.
Another flaw of Mr. Gillum’s is pulling up before the race ends. When one thinks, while the race is still ongoing, that the race is won that is a major blunder. You fight to the end and you do not stop before the final bell rings.
Before the general election most of the polls were showing Mr. Gillum ahead by three points. One of his senior advisers stated publicly before election day that they could not be defeated.
Mr. Gillum did lose and as a long-time political campaign manager it was solely his own fault. It is time to look at facts.
Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Gillum both created political committees to support their effort to be elected Governor.
Mr. DeSantis’ committee, called Friends of Ron DeSantis, reported as of December 31st (nearly two months after election day) that it raised $41,001,515 and spent $40,973,140. This left $28,375 cash on hand or not even 1/10th of one percent of what was raised.
Now, pay attention and compare Mr. DeSantis’ effort to Mr. Gillum’s below.
Mr. Gillum’s committee, called Forward Florida, reported as of December 31st (nearly two months after the election) that it raised $38,399,274 and spent $34,492.856. This left $3,906,418 cash on hand as of January 1st or 10.2% of the money raised for the election was not spent on the election.
How does one explain keeping back $3.9 million dollars? Every dollar should have been spent on the election but it was not. Why not? Every reader of this column probably has a good idea why not.
Now let’s look at how Mr. Gillum did in Leon County compared to other Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Mr. Gillum received 63.3% of the vote in Leon County.
By comparison Alex Sink in 2010 got 66.5%. Bill McBride got 64.6% in 2002. Lawton Chiles received 69.3% in 1990 and 63.4% in 1994. Mr. Gillum did gain a larger majority in Leon County then anyone before, while Mr. DeSantis received the largest number of votes in Leon County by a Republican gubernatorial candidate than ever before.
Mr. Gillum did not tend his home base the way he could have and should have.
Statewide Mr. Gillum lost being Governor by just 4/10ths of a point. Charlie Crist lost by 1% in 2014 and Alex Sink lost by 1.2% in 2010.
When you lose by 4/10th of a point you have to realize that holding back 3.9 million was incredibly stupid. Now you might enjoy spending the cash by rewarding a few friends with lucrative contracts.
Where does Mr. Gillum go from here. I would suggest the history of previous Democratic gubernatorial losers give a clue. Outside of Charlie Crist all retired from seeking public office. Mr. Gillum is the youngest loser so he might attempt a rebound. Unless of course, Dr. Jackson has something to say about it.
On to a self-disclosure. I donated $100 to Mr. Gillum in September 2017 when he was severely lagging in the polls. I gave it because he handled the second of three hurricanes in a row much better than the first hurricane. I thought he was educable. I gave a second $100 in September 2018. I took steps to heal the breach between us, he did not because he can not do it. This is a fatal flaw.
The next column will address the future of Scott Maddox.
Jon M. Ausman is the longest serving member of the Democratic National Committee in Florida’s history (December 1992 to January 2017). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 850-321-7799.