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Sun Nov 4, 2018, 10:30 AM

Andrew Gillum is Florida's Homecoming King!

You can call him Homecoming King, Prom King, King of Hearts etc etc - just as long as I get to call him Governor on Tuesday!

(article from the Atlantic Monthly)

There’s nothing quite like the cacophony of the homecoming parade at a historically black university. Here at Florida A&M, children run between floats, yelling and laughing as they chase down pieces of hard candy. Bass from car speakers and from roadside DJs rattle trunks and ear drums. Frying fish crackles and street vendors hawk orange and green shirts. And at the center of it all is the marching band, the legendary Marching 100. Shiny trumpets blare, drum majors strut, and dancers twirl. That’s what people come to see.

But this year, at Florida A&M’s homecoming, things are different. It’s Andrew Gillum who gets most of the applause. Tallahassee’s mayor and one of FAMU’s most famous sons has turned the Saturday-morning parade into his own campaign rally. Gillum, the Democratic nominee for the state’s governor, is at ease in the electrified atmosphere of his alma mater. He and his wife, R. Jai Gillum, take turns pushing their 1-year-old son, Davis, in his stroller, in front of dozens of volunteers who march behind. Children yell “There he go!” from blocks away. Gillum kisses babies, shakes hands, and takes selfies. Among the masses of black people lining the street, several tell me it’s been a decade since they’ve been this enthusiastic about a candidate.

Lost in much of the national coverage of the Florida governor’s election is the fact that, well, it’s about Florida. In a bellwether election year, where the effectiveness of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant, white-backlash-fueled nationalism is being put to the test as a top-to-bottom electoral strategy across the country, Gillum has emerged as one of the favorite figures among the opposition. A black man who has faced a slew of blatantly racist attacks and who, in a viral moment during a debate, said that racists believe that his opponent, Ron DeSantis, is a racist, Gillum reflects a new potential pathway for that opposition, one that sees combating racism and bigotry as an opportunity and not as a political minefield.

But here in Florida, his potential reflects the deeper possibilities of the state’s electorate. There are few politicians of prominence—in Florida or otherwise—who share comparable life experiences with Gillum. Born in Miami to a lower-working-class family, he has intimate experience with the safety-net, health-care, and criminal-justice systems that he has pledged to reform. Four of his brothers—Terrance, Eric, Chuck, and Patrick—have faced serious criminal charges and convictions. “Most would say I probably shouldn’t have made it out of the neighborhood,” he told me. In the language common to many black working-class neighborhoods, where relatively few young men manage to maintain the escape velocity needed to leave, Gillum is chosen.
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