Nov. 6, 2018 Governor

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+Ron DeSantis/Jeanette Nuñez (R)
Andrew Gillum/Chris King (D)
Darcy Richardson/Nancy Argenziano (Ref.)
Kyle Gibson/Ellen Wilds (NPA)
Ryan Foley/John Tutton (NPA)
Bruce Stanley/Ryan McJury (NPA)
write-ins (2)


These are official results following the machine recount.
Voter Registration 13,278,070.  Turnout 8,305,929.
Plurality: 32,463 votes (0.40 percentage points).
  FL Department of State

The race to succeeded term-limited Gov. Rick Scott (R), one of the highest profile gubernatorial contests of the cycle, epitomized the divisions in the United States.  The contest was decided by just 32,463 votes out of more than 8.2 million (0.40 percentage points).

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R), age 40 (b. Sept. 14, 1978), aligned himself closely with President Trump, while Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), age 39 (b. July 26, 1979) set forth a progressive agenda and won the endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  DeSantis was first elected to Congress in 2012 representing the 6th CD ("southern Jacksonville suburbs to New Smyrna Beach" including Daytona Beach), and was a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016 until Marco Rubio's re-entry.  Gillum was elected mayor in 2014 after 11 years as a city commissioner.  His candidacy offered the prospect of electing the state's first black governor.  Republicans did try to tie  Gillum to an ongoing FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee's Community Redevelopment Agency and raised other ethics questions (>).

Both parties saw competitive primaries on Aug. 28.  On the Republican side U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis gained the endorsement of  Trump in a June 22 tweet.  The DeSantis campaign released a rather remarkable ad on July 30, "Casey," narrated by his wife, which showed the candidate playing with his young children, specifically building a wall with daughter Madison, reading to four-month old Mason from one of Trump's books, and teaching Madison to read from a "Make America Great Again" sign; the ad closes with a shot of Mason in his crib wearing a red MAGA jumper (>).  Trump rallied with DeSantis in Tampa on July 31. 
DeSantis defeated Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam by 56.5% to 36.5%.  In the Democratic primary, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, running as a progressive, achieved an upset win over former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham by 34.4% to 31.3% and 20.3% for former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and 10.1% for real estate entrepreneur Jeff Greene.  The Democratic and Republican candidates spent about $150 million during the primaries.

DeSantis announced state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez (R-Miami) as his running mate on Sept. 5, and Gillum announced Winter Park businessman Chris King as his running mate on Sept. 6.  King had been a candidate in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary, obtaining just 2.5% of the vote. 
On Sept. 10 DeSantis announced his resignation from Congress to focus on his campaign.

Both campaigns underwent shakeups after the primary.  Gillum replaced his campaign manager; Brendan McPhillips held the position to late August, and Brandon Davis took up the role from mid September.  By September the DeSantis campaign was described as "floundering."  There were gaffes and even reported tensions with Trump.  After DeSantis disagreed with Trump about the loss of life in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria, a Politico report described Trump as "privately lashing out" at DeSantis and "angrily accusing the Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee of publicly betraying him."  Toward the end of the month the campaign brought on veteran Florida politico Susie Wiles as campaign chairman, while Brad Herold kept the title of campaign manager.

The approach of Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in the Panhandle on Oct. 10, disrupted the campaign.  On Oct. 8 Gillum suspended his campaign for what turned out to be 11 days, prompting cancellation of the first scheduled debate; he finally returning to the trail on Oct. 19.  The DeSantis campaign collected hurricane relief supplies at events.  DeSantis and Gillum finally engaged in two debates, on Oct. 21 in Tampa (>) and on Oct. 24 at Broward College in Davie, presented by WPBF 25 (>).

Trump was not as active in Florida as he was in other states, perhaps because of the above-mentioned tiff, but he did do a rally in Fort Myers on Oct. 31 (+).  Meanwhile, a string of Democratic luminaries visited to campaign with Gillum (and sometimes Sen. Nelson) including Cory Booker (Oct. 20), Joe Biden (Oct. 22), Kamala Harris (Oct. 29), Eric Holder (Oct. 29), Bernie Sanders (Oct. 31) and Barack Obama (Nov. 2).

The Wesleyan Media Project reported that from Jan. 1, 2017 to Oct. 25 2018 Florida TV viewers saw the most gubernatorial ads of any state, a total of 196,050 at an estimated cost of $133.0 million; Democrats and Democratic groups had an advantage of 40,534 ads aired (>).  The Sun-Sentinel reported the DeSantis campaign and PAC had a slight financial edge in this race.  The campaign and the PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, raised $58.8 million and spent $52.4 million while Gillum's campaign and  PAC, Forward Florida, raised $55.1 million and spent $46.9 million.

Gillum conceded on Nov. 7.  However, on Nov. 10 as the race went to a recount, he retracted his concession, stating that "this process is not over until every single vote is counted."  In contrast to the Scott campaign's aggressive approach on the recount, the DeSantis campaign, which did have a significantly larger margin, was much more restrained.  On Nov. 17 Gillum conceded for good.

Campaign Managers:
Susie Wiles, campaign chairman
(Sept. 26, 2018)  Managing partner of the Jacksonville office of Ballard Partners since 2011 and principal at Right Coast Strategies from 2011.  Senior advisor for battleground communications on the Trump for President campaign in Florida.  Initial campaign manager on Jon Huntsman's presidential campaign, started as executive director of H-PAC in late Jan. 2011; resigned July 21, 2011.  Campaign manager on Rick Scott's successful run for Governor of Florida, 2010.   Chief of communications and special initiatives under Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton for five years through June 2008.  Principal at Wiles Consulting, Inc. 2001-04.  Co-managing partner in the Florida office of APCO Worldwide, 2000-01.  Senior executive under Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney including as his chief of staff, 1995-99.   District director to U.S. Rep. Tillie K. Fowler (FL), 1992-95.  Deputy director of operations for the vice presidential campaign on Bush-Quayle '88.  Principal at Summerall, Smith & Wiles, 1984-86.  Special assistant to U.S. Secretary of Labor Ray Donovan, 1982-83.  Special Assistant (scheduler) to President Reagan, 1980-81.  Deputy director of scheduling on Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign.  Staff assistant to U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp (NY), 1979-80.  B.A. in English from University of Maryland.

Brad Herold, campaign manager
Vice president of Something Else Strategies (from 2017) and president of Parabellum Strategies (from July 2016) in Orlando.  Campaign manager on Ron DeSantis for U.S. Senate, Jan.-Nov. 2016.  Executive director (May 2015-Jan. 2016) and deputy executive director (Jan.-May 2015) of the Republican Party of Florida.  Deputy state director in the Office of Sen. Marco Rubio, Aug. 2014-Jan. 2015.  Campaign manager on Mike McFadden for U.S. Senate (MN), Sept. 2013-July 2014.  Deputy staff director in the Majority Office of the Florida House, Nov. 2012-Sept. 2013.  Campaign manager on Adam Hasner for U.S. House, Feb.-Nov. 2012.  Special assistant on Hasner for U.S. Senate, May 2011-Jan. 2012.  Legislative affairs at the Florida Department of Transportation, Jan.-May 2011.  Coalition director on Rick Scott for Governor, Sept.-Nov. 2010.  Executive director of the Broward County Republican Party, March-Aug. 2010.  Director of field operations at the RPOF, Nov. 2007-Feb. 2010.  Internship coordinator in the Florida Governor's Office, Feb.-Nov. 2007.

Gillum:  Brandon Davis, campaign manager
(Sept. 18, 2018)  Principal-managing director in Washington, DC at GPSIMPACT from Feb. 2017.  General election director at the DNC, mid-June to Dec. 2016.  National political director fot the SEIU; previously deputy national political director for member engagement, and started with SEIU in 2007 as political director for the union's Missouri State Council.  Political director and deputy campaign director on Claire McCaskill's 2006 U.S. Senate campaign.  Political director for the Missouri Democratic Party in 2005.  Political director on Gov. Bob Holden's 2004 U.S. Senate primary campaign.  Political director for the Missouri Democratic Party in 2003.  Double major in black studies and political science from University of Missouri-Columbia.

Brendan McPhillips, campaign manager
(Nov. 28, 2017-Aug. 2018; fired after the primary, reported Sept. 4, 2018)  Senior advisor on Joe Khan for District Attorney, Jan.-May 2017.  Political director on Pete for DNC, Feb. 2017.  Pennsylvania political director on Hillary for America, May-Nov. 2016.   Campaign manager on John Fetterman's 2016 primary campaign for U.S. Senate, Oct. 2015-April 2016.  Campaign manager on Helen Gym’s successful campaign for Philadelphia City Council, Feb.-Nov. 2015.  Campaign manager on Kevin Strouse’s 2014 congressional race in PA-8 in Bucks County, Jan.-Nov. 2014.  Pennsylvania organizing director for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, March 2013-Jan. 2014.  Regional field director in Bucks County on the Obama campaign, March-Nov. 2012.  Regional field director/assistant community manager for Draftfcb, March-Oct. 2011.  Special projects director on Hoosiers for Hill, June-Nov. 2010.  B.A. in political science, peace studies from University of Notre Dame, 2010; transferred from San Jacinto College.

See also:
Alex Isenstadt and Marc Caputo.  "Trump rails on Florida ally over Hurricane Maria flap."  Politico, Sept. 18, 2018.

Aric Chokey.  "Campaign cash in Florida's 2018 race for governor."  Sun-Sentinel, Nov. 7, 2018.