PHOENIX AZ- MAY 22 Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks to the media in front of the Arizona State Capitol before filing petitions to run for the U.S. Senate

DeSantis has emphasized his conservative credentials and military career, but it was the support by Trump that turned the race around in his favor.

Florida's Democratic nominee for governor says the state is looking for a leader who will bring people together, "not misogynist, not racist, not bigots".

DeSantis said the Bernie Sanders- and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-endorsed Gillum would make Florida take a "turn to left-wing socialist policies that will absolutely devastate this state".

Mr Gillum, however, told Fox News his opponent's "monkey" remark "wasn't lost on me". His surprise victory sets up a November showdown with Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, a favorite of President Donald Trump.

Gillum stunned pollsters and much of the punditocracy by defeating four rivals to win the Democratic primary with 34 percent of the vote.


Gillum was a 23-year-old Florida A&M student when he became the youngest person elected to the Tallahassee City Commission in 2003.

"Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses", he said.

Facing off in the Democratic gubernatorial primary were former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, billionaire Jeff Greene, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando-area businessman Chris King. "I don't think there's any other way to interpret it".

"We don't have to run this campaign as "Republican Lite" to win", Gillum wrote in a Medium post just a few weeks after entering the race in March 2017.

While both parties saw record turnout, with more than 1.4 million Democrats voting and nearly 1.6 million Republicans, nearly 27 percent of registered voters in Florida are independent. "That's not going to be good for Florida".


DeSantis came from behind with the help of Trump to beat Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who campaigned longer, raised more money and built party establishment support.

Not even an early-morning insult from Donald Trump could wipe the smile from Andrew Gillum's face as he embraced his first full day as the newly elected and rather unexpected Democratic party candidate for Florida governor.

Gillum's Democratic opponents in the governor's race largely refrained from going negative on the mayor for fear of alienating Gillum's progressive, diverse base.

Florida Democrats accused DeSantis of deploying "racist dog whistles". In a low-key event at a Greek restaurant near his home, he said he'd dedicate himself to ensuring President Donald Trump gets re-elected in 2020.

DeSantis spokesman Stephen Lawson rejected any racial overtones. Gillum is mayor of the city of Tallahassee and Trump said Gillum has "allowed crime and many other problems to flourish in the city". The outgoing Governor Rick Scott, also a Republican, won his primary to challenge the incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) in November. DeSantis first won a northeastern Florida seat in Congress in 2012. Despite a recent decrease, Leon county's crime rate alluded to by Trump is still the highest in the state.


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