ORLANDO, Fla. – Democratic candidates for two of the most prized races in the midterm elections joined other Florida Democrats to kick off the general election campaign.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson headlined Friday's rally at a union hall in Orlando.
Also joining them were Sean Shaw, the Democratic nominee for attorney general; Nikki Fried, the Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner; and Jeremy Ring, the Democratic nominee for chief financial officer. Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Chris King also spoke Friday, pledging their support to Gillum and providing insight on what it was like to run against against him in the primaries.
“If you’re Ron DeSantis, this is what should scare you, coming from a guy that’s competed with Andrew Gillum for 18 months – Andrew Gillum never gives up," King said.
Florida's Democratic leaders are hoping to energize voters during the more than two months leading up to November's general election.
Speakers on Friday hammered home the importance of providing Floridians with affordable health care, a living wage, clean waterways, and with elected officials who will fight for their best interests on the state and national level.
“We’re going to turn Florida around and you know what else we’re going to turn around? The Democrats are going to become the majority in the House and the Senate in Washington,” Nelson said.
Nelson spoke ahead of Gillum, sharing anecdotes about how the two first met when Gillum was student body president at Florida A&M.
Gillum shared stories about how being raised in a low-income household will help him understand and fight for the needs of Floridians who are struggling financially or otherwise.
“This is not an abstract reality. This is the everyday, lived expierence for too many people in this state,” Gillum said,
He said he'll fight to invest a billion new dollars into the state's education system to raise teachers' pay, to protect the environment and combat global warming, protect Medicare for senior citizens and keep oil drilling away from Florida's coast.
“There is no profit margin worth sacrificing the quality of the air we breath, there’s no corporate profit that is worth contaminating the water that we drink, there is no corporate interest big enough to cause sea life to flow up in our beaches in record numbers, dead," Gillum said. "We can change this thing, ya’ll but we can’t change it until we win.”
He said he'll spend the next two months before the general election in November touring the state with his wife to "talk honestly and truthfully" to voters about their needs with the goal of proving that common decency still exists in both people and politics.
“There are still more of us who are common, who are decent, who are self-respecting, who still believe in the American dream," Gillum said.
Gillum's matchup against the Republican nominee, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Nelson's race against Republican Gov. Rick Scott are two of the most-watched races in the midterm elections.
In a statement, Florida GOP chairman Blaise Ingoglia called Gillum a socialist who was "the flavor of the day."
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