Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis won the Florida gubernatorial race Tuesday night, defeating Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by a razor thin margin.
The race was seen nationally as one of the starkest choices between President Trump and the increasingly ascendant left-wing of the Democratic Party.
Each party’s candidate slotted easily into one of those characterizations. Mr. DeSantis was considered one of Mr. Trump’s staunchest congressional allies before resigning his seat to focus on the gubernatorial race, whereas Mr. Gillum campaigned on a promise to jack the corporate tax rate by 40 percent, raise the minimum wage to $15, and “Medicare for all” — all staples of the socialist camp among modern Democrats.
Mr. Gillum conceded just before 11 p.m. Eastern time. With 99 percent of the votes counted, Mr. DeSantis held a lead of 50 percent to 49 percent, a margin of about 80,000 votes.
His surprise victory in the Democratic primary catapulted a left-winger to the head of the ticket, bringing in the process a flood of glowing national press and millions from the network of left-wing donors. The attention and money instantly made Mr. Gillum instantly more competitive.
The race was nasty in many ways, punctuated by racist out-of-state robocalls and haunted by both an FBI and state ethics investigation into Tallahassee politics.
Mr. DeSantis sought to portray Mr. Gillum as corrupt because of those investigations. Mr. Gillum insists he is not a target of them, although the FBI declined all comment.
Similarly, Mr. Gillum repeatedly struck at what he called racist overtones threaded through the DeSantis campaign. In the candidates’ debate, Mr. Gillum slyly noted that while he didn’t think Mr. DeSantis was racist, the racists sure seemed to like Mr. DeSantis.
Mr. DeSantis’ victory means the GOP will hold the governor’s position in the Sunshine State as two-time governor Rick Scott ran against incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.