Florida gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at a rally Wednesday, July 18, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Nothing can be easy in Florida politics. Nothing can be normal, either.
The polling had been tight for weeks in Florida and for a refreshing change the polling was quasi-accurate. While months showed that Andrew Gillum enjoyed a lead – at times one displayed as comfortable – in recent weeks those numbers constricted and Republican Ron DeSantis showed recovering strength. In a race that was certainly abrasive in nature the issues were rather easily dispatched. It became a contest of avatars.
But, now, it has been called.
DeSantis wins Florida, CNN projects
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 7, 2018
This was a race of extremes, with two candidates who could not be any further apart. DeSantis was the Trump figure, holding the status quo regardless of the controversy attached. Gillum was the ultra-progressive with radical ideas for the state’s future. Hanging in the balance was that the economy in the Sunshine State is booming, and the question would be whether enough would jump off and risk upsetting that economic freight train.
The night began strong for Gillum with an early surge from Broward and Dade Counties that overcame the early vote advantage for the GOP. As more counties reported the widespread Democrat strongholds in Orlando and Tampa did not deliver broader returns, and gradually DeSantis crept up. Soon it became apparent the tipping point would be the crucial panhandle counties, a decidedly Republican stronghold, but lightly populated when measured against the blue counties.
This was a particularly nasty contest, with both sides willing to toss the gloves over the ropes and bare-knuckle the affair right to the wire. Gillum saw his early opportunity to inject race into the campaign and he never pulled back from that strategy. DeSantis counter-punched with his repeated references to the federal investigation taking place in Tallahassee and ensnaring Gillum in a number of controversies, as well as highlighting his policies which trended towards the socialist spectrum.
In the end you can say the razor thin margin was purple in a result. An appropriate color for a contusion, which represents the nature of this election.