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Sunburn — The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics — 6.23.22

By Peter Schorsch

Good Thursday morning.

Andrew Gillum awoke on Election Day in 2018, expecting to be Florida’s Governor-elect by the time he went to sleep.

He led in the polls and seemed to have momentum. Floridians seemed eager to move on from the chaos of President Donald Trump by rejecting his hand-picked gubernatorial candidate, Ron DeSantis.

Well, we know what happened. DeSantis surprised the pollsters, winning by about 32,000 votes after a recount of about 8 million ballots. Trump emerged more popular in Florida than ever.

And Gillum? It keeps getting worse.

A tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

The U.S. Department of Justice indicted him Wednesday on federal election-related charges that could put him in prison for 20 years or more.

The 21-count indictment alleges, among other things, that Gillum and longtime campaign associate Sharon Lettman-Hicks, between 2016 and 2019, conspired to commit wire fraud by soliciting money on “false and fraudulent promises.”

Translation: federal investigators claim Gillum lied.

That would have been during the time Gillum ran for Governor.

He knew he was under investigation but ran anyway. He upset Gwen Graham in the Democratic Primary, who likely would have had a better chance to beat DeSantis.

Gillum denied the charges.

“Every campaign I’ve run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal; it is political,” he said in a statement.

“Throughout my career, I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power. There’s been a target on my back ever since I was the Mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now.”

Political?

This is a federal indictment, not from the state.

But everyone gets their day in court, and Gillum surely will get his.

In the meantime, though, he continues a stunning fall from grace. The former Tallahassee Mayor was a rising star in the Democratic Party, even after losing the Governor’s race. It didn’t take long for that to unravel.

In March 2020, a little more than a year after DeSantis took office, Miami Beach police found Gillum incoherent in a hotel room with bags of suspected crystal meth. Three men, one passed out, were with him. Gillum said he was at a wedding reception and drank too much but denied doing drugs.

He was not arrested.

Later, Gillum tried to launch a drive to increase Democratic voter registration, but with limited success. For the first time since records were kept, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in Florida.

Let’s not even go into the political end of things. At this point, it would be ridiculous to entertain the notion of any political comeback for Gillum. He has more pressing matters, such as staying out of prison.

Still, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been if Gillum won. Republicans will say the state dodged a cannonball when DeSantis topped Gillum, and considering everything, they might be right.

Imagine if this formal accusation came down as Gov. Gillum was running for re-election.

Better yet, don’t. We’ve had enough things to worry about without adding something that didn’t happen to the list.

___

In 2018, Gillum lost to DeSantis by about 32,000 votes. He was a popular nominee in many Democratic areas of the state, including Tallahassee, where he spent 15 years in local elected office, serving as a City Commissioner and later as Mayor.

And, as the party’s nominee for Governor, his support four years ago was hard-sought among Democratic candidates, including current Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow.

Matlow was often seen alongside Gillum four years ago as they both campaigned for office. Various pictures on Matlow’s social media accounts show him with Gillum at the FAMU homecoming parade, in front of the state Capitol, and marching together through the city with a crowd carrying a mix of “Rattlers for Gillum” and Matlow campaign signs.

The first-term Commissioner even used one of those photos in a direct mail ad that tied his campaign hopes directly to Gillum.

A direct mail ad produced by the Jeremy Matlow campaign.

“Gillum for Florida. Matlow for Tallahassee. Matlow will continue Tallahassee’s work as we bring it home for Florida,” the mailer reads, with a nod to Gillum’s campaign slogan.

Matlow, of course, is not accused of wire fraud. He has also not been accused of knowing about the crimes Gillum allegedly committed during the 2018 campaign cycle. However, Matlow’s bromance could come back to haunt him as he gears up for a re-election bid against David Bellamy.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@JohnJHarwood: whatever its other consequences, the Jan. 6 committee is pushing the national political conversation toward clearer distinctions between truth and lies, right and wrong, people who actually uphold American values and dangerous frauds who trash them for power or money or both

@Steve_Vladek: Stop calling them “alternate” electors. It’s not like Hawaii in 1960 when two slates were duly certified. These were random-ass people who met in a room and declared themselves to be something they weren’t, then fraudulently tried to get counted as representing what they didn’t.

@JasonFurman: Whatever you thought of the merits of a gas tax holiday in February, it is a worse idea now. Refineries are even more constrained now so supply is nearly fully inelastic. Most of the 18.4 cent reduction would be pocketed by industry — with maybe, a few cents passed on to consumers.

@DavidABergstein: The ham-handed way Rick Scott has worked to elevate his own profile at the expense of working at the NRSC is one of Senate Democrats’ great advantages.

@TravisAkers: I supported Andrew Gillum in 2018. I do not regret that because we did not know at the time what we did not know. But at some point, you have to accept responsibility. You can’t continue to blame “political attacks” for actions that you clearly knew were unethical and illegal.

@RealJacobPerry: Andrew Gillum was a scam from day one. Literally, everyone knew it, and no one cared because too many people were in on the grift. And now we will have President DeSantis because of it. Congratulations, everyone. Hope you spent that money well.

@KevinCate: Couldn’t be any more disappointed.

@BriceBarnes: When people wonder why you left a campaign.

@ClayTravis: Disney stock is now the same price, $94 a share, as it was on January 5th of 2015. That’s 7.5 years of complete immobility in the stock price, also, coincidentally, when cord-cutting began.

Tweettweet:

 

@MDixon55: A lot has already been said about this indictment, but fact mega national Dem donor Donald Sussman was “defrauded” as part of this isn’t going to help the 2022 version of Florida Democrats and their national $ problem

@chris_minor10: Lady out at Tom Brown Park is cranking out laps around the park with a 20 oz Milwaukee’s Best Tall Boy. She’s on her second (not lap). And here I am for the last 25 min making up reasons not to get out of the car and run in the heat. I think she’s onto something.

FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.com, June 23, 2022

Republished with permission 

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