Andrew Gillum was fighting off “smear tactics” and said he was ready to talk about the “issues” in the hours ahead of his Florida gubernatorial debate rematch against Republican Ron DeSantis on Wednesday night in West Palm Beach.
The Tallahassee mayor and Democratic nominee who could become the state’s first Black governor’s comments came in a tweet Wednesday morning that was likely in reference to the onslaught of Republican- and white nationalist-funded efforts like this week’s racist robocalls to voters.
Some of that negative attention has included allegations of corruption against Gillum, who has been accused of inappropriately accepting free tickets to see a Broadway play in New York City in 2016. Gillum has denied the accusations and there have never been any criminal charges over the allegations.
Still, debate viewers can expect for that topic to dominate the rematch early on considering the resurgence of the topic in the media.
Another surefire bet for the debate is the topic of racism, something that has been steadily streaming out of DeSantis’ campaign since Gillum won the Democratic primary in August. The day after Gillum’s victory, DeSantis made it a point toll Florida voters not to “monkey up” the election by electing a Democrat (who happened to be Black). More apparent proof that DeSantis is at the very least a white supremacy sympathizer has been leaking along the way, culminating on Monday with a fresh round of racist robocalls that featured monkey sounds in the background.
Even still, with all of that background noise trying to drown out the very loud racism associated with DeSantis, it would seem that Floridians remained more concerned with those same “issues” Gillum said he was ready to talk about in Wednesday’s debate than the conveniently timed political “distractions” that routinely come up in campaigns with national implications.
As of Wednesday, the mayor was polling nearly 6 percentage points ahead of DeSantis, who exposed himself during the first debate Sunday as being more worried about attacking Gillum than with policy.
The second debate starts at 7 p.m. EDT and will be filmed on the campus of Broward College. It will be televised live across the state.
Want to watch the debate but don’t live in Florida? Click here to live stream the debate via the WPBF website for the local ABC affiliate.
If you happen to miss it live, you can watch it on CSPAN’s website at 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday night by clicking here.