The race to be Florida’s next governor became that much clearer after the first debate between candidates Sunday night. Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum decidedly out-dueled his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, showing that the Tallahassee mayor had a major advantage on multiple fronts weeks ahead of Election Day next month.
DeSantis, a former congressman who left office under a shroud of controversy, has routinely resorted to racist rhetoric during this contentious campaign. And while much of that type of talk was absent from the debate, it became increasingly and painfully obvious that he was not qualified for any elected office, let alone the governorship of Florida.
As a result, there were five distinct takeaways from the one-sided debate that needed to be emphasized.
1. Gillum is head and shoulders above DeSantis when it comes to the issues.
From the start of the debate, Gillum was all about policy and issues, punctuating his political knowledge with a quip about how he would be “a governor that believes in science,” a slick reference to DeSantis denying the proof behind climate change.
Gillum said he was incredulous that DeSantis was against solar energy, especially considering how Florida is known as the “Sunshine State.” The Tallahassee mayor also showed his masterful knowledge on taxes and Medicaid, two other issues important to Florida voters.
2. DeSantis is extremely disrespectful.
The former congressman who resigned in April in part because of a House ethics complaint against him repeatedly cut off Gillum’s well-articulated debate responses while continuously calling Gillum by his first name. Moderator Jake Tapper announced the two had only met in person moments before the debate began, making it even more noticeable how DeSantis called Gillum “Andrew” while Gillum called DeSantis by more respectful terms, such as “congressman” or “my opponent.”
Adding insult to injury, DeSantis ducked accusations of racism despite his rhetoric revealing the opposite and repeatedly lied about Gillum’s record, including an embellished and disproven report about Tallahassee’s murder rate.
3. Jake Tapper did a horrible job moderating.
The CNN anchor kept cutting off Gillum during his responses while seemingly ignoring how DeSantis made a habit of going well over his 70-second allotted time for his own responses.
To top it off, Tapper didn’t ask a handful of questions that Florida voters may have wanted to hear, including the contentious topic of the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which has come under renewed scrutiny lately and seemingly gives white gun owners a get out of jail free card for shooting Black people in Florida.
4. DeSantis is a Trump loyalist through and through.
He blindly lent his loyalty to the president and even said Donald Trump was a role model for kids. Gillum offered the perfect response.
5. This campaign isn’t even a contest.
Gillum showed he and DeSantis are not operating on an even level in any capacity, but especially politically and intellectually. The Tallahassee mayor outshined him on every topic that came up and showed himself to be a more personable and likable candidate. In addition, Gillum was and has been polling ahead of DeSantis. But, of course, as the entire country knows from 2016, polling means little to nothing until the Election Day results are tallied.
All the more reason to go vote on Nov. 6.