- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2018

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum on Sunday thanked billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer for helping him score his upset win in last week’s Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary.

“I’ll tell you, I’m obviously deeply appreciative of Mr. Soros, as well as Mr. Steyer, both men whom I’ve known for some time,” Mr. Gillum said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Democratic megadonors and their associated groups directed millions to the campaign of Mr. Gillum, who edged out former Rep. Gwen Graham in the crowded Democratic primary. He faces Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis in the November election.

At the same time, Mr. Gillum insisted that his gubernatorial campaign was driven by small donations from “everyday folks.”

“[O]ur campaign was really propped up by a lot of small contributions, including my mother, who was on auto-deduct of $20 a month into our campaign,” said Mr. Gillum. “In the first two days of this general election, our campaign has been buoyed this first week, raising over $2 million by everyday folks, not big contributions, but everyday folks sowing a seed into our race.”

Without Mr. Soros and Mr. Steyer, however, it’s fair to ask whether Mr. Gillum would have been able to compete against his better-known, wealthier opponents, including former Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine, who spent $29 million of his own money and finished third.

In April, Mr. Gillum’s campaign raised $450,000, more than half of which came from Mr. Soros in the form of a donation to Forward Florida, a pro-Gillum committee, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

In the campaign’s final two weeks, Mr. Soros and Mr. Steyer directed $650,000 to Forward Florida. Mr. Soros chipped in another $250,000 in July, while Mr. Steyer’s NextGen American gave $500,000 between July 30 and Aug. 14, Politico reported.

Mr. Gillum said that “what is going to help us win on Nov. 6 is these everyday folks deciding to sow a seed into this race.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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