As Flor­ida re­count wraps up, Demo­crat Gil­lum con­cedes

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - News - BY GARY FINEOUT

Demo­crat An­drew Gil­lum ended his hard-fought cam­paign for Flor­ida gov­er­nor Sat­ur­day with just hours re­main­ing for coun­ties to turn in of­fi­cial re­count re­sults, con­ced­ing to a Repub­li­can whose party has held that of­fice since 1999.

Gil­lum, in a video he posted on Face­book, con­grat­u­lated Repub­li­can Ron DeSan­tis and also vowed to re­main po­lit­i­cally ac­tive even though his term as mayor of the Flor­ida cap­i­tal of Tal­la­has­see ends next week. Of his fu­ture plans, Flor­ida’s first African-Amer­i­can nom­i­nee for gov­er­nor said: “stay tuned.”

The an­nounce­ment came just hours be­fore Flor­ida’s coun­ties must turn in their of­fi­cial re­sults af­ter tense days of re­count­ing bal­lots in both the gu­ber­na­to­rial and a U.S. Se­nate con­test – two na­tion­ally watched midterm elec­tions that have keep the pres­i­den­tial swing state on edge since Elec­tion Day.

“This has been the jour­ney of our lives,” said Gil­lum, ap­pear­ing in the video with his wife, R. Jai Gil­lum. “Although no­body wanted to be gov­er­nor more than me, this was not just about an elec­tion cy­cle. This was about cre­at­ing the kind of change in this state that re­ally al­lows the voices of ev­ery­day peo­ple to show up again in our gov­ern­ment.”

Gil­lum’s brief re­marks came hours af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who at one point in the cam­paign had sharply crit­i­cized Gil­lum, praised him for run­ning a tough race.

“He will be a strong Demo­crat war­rior long into the fu­ture - a force to reckon with!” said Trump in a Twit­ter post.

Gil­lum had ini­tially con­ceded to DeSan­tis on elec­tion night, but he re­tracted it as the ra­zor­thin mar­gin be­tween the two can­di­dates nar­rowed. But he still trailed DeSan­tis by more than 30,000 votes fol­low­ing a legally re­quired ma­chine re­count. Coun­ties are wrap­ping up a hand re­count this week­end and must sub­mit their of­fi­cial re­sults by noon Sun­day.

Gil­lum’s con­ces­sion as­sures Flor­ida Repub­li­cans will re­tain their grasp on the gov­er­nor’s of­fice since Jeb Bush’s term start­ing in 1999.

DeSan­tis, 40, was con­sid­ered an un­der­dog be­fore Trump tweeted his sup­port for DeSan­tis in De­cem­ber, a month be­fore DeSan­tis even en­tered the race. Trump cam­paigned to help push DeSan­tis to a pri­mary vic­tory in Au­gust and vis­ited Flor­ida two more times to help the Repub­li­can in the fi­nal days of the elec­tion.

DeSan­tis stum­bled out of the gate af­ter win­ning the Aug. 28 pri­mary, telling Fox News that vot­ers shouldn’t “mon­key this up” by elect­ing Gil­lum.

DeSan­tis ran as a po­lit­i­cal out­sider de­spite serv­ing three terms in Con­gress and run­ning for U.S. Se­nate in 2016 be­fore drop­ping out of the race when Repub­li­can Sen. Marco Ru­bio de­cided to run for re-elec­tion. The race was the third of­fice he’s run for in two years: his re-elec­tion, Se­nate and gov­er­nor.

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