From the way the Florida governor’s race is shaping up, it seems nearly inevitable that Andrew Gillum will become the state’s first black governor, which we’re sure will herald a great deal of celebration and racial triumph. Which is fine, we’re not trying to take away from any historic impact such a victory might have. We’re only questioning how much of Gillum’s tenure in office will be characterized by his race…and not much else. Because from the way he’s run his race, it seems as if Gillum is ready to use his race as a shield against any criticism, any investigation, and any insinuation that he is anything other than the greatest politician in the land.
On Tuesday, news broke that Gillum’s story about accepting a “Hamilton” ticket from his brother was not quite the truth. He’s not – shock! – under FBI investigation because he attended a Broadway show with his brother. He’s under FBI investigation because that ticket came to him by way of an undercover FBI informant who was posing as a lobbyist. Now maybe Gillum knew the “lobbyist” was the source of the ticket and maybe he didn’t. But that’s basically asking the question: Is this man comically incompetent or is he a corrupt liar?
But to hear Gillum tell it, to ask ANY questions about this investigation is to cast aspersions against him because he is a black man.
“All along they’ve wanted the people of this state to believe somehow I haven’t deserved what I’ve gotten,” the Tallahassee mayor said in his first debate with Republican Ron DeSantis. “I’m unethical, participated in illegal and illicit activity. I mean, you name it. The goal is obviously to use my candidacy as a way to reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men.”
This defense might hold some thimbleful of water if these attacks were coming from the DeSantis campaign. To be sure, Gillum’s opponent is taking full advantage of the story, but this is not some random spin that came out of the right-wing blogosphere. This story has been published in the Tampa Tribune and other major Florida newspapers. It’s news. It’s real. It’s factual. Gillum is under FBI investigation and there are real discrepancies between his story and the truth. If anyone is reinforcing stereotypes, it is Gillum with his insistence on playing the race card when things get a little too hot.
The voters in Florida should be very careful about electing a man who cannot take some measure of responsibility for his actions. It’s going to be very tiresome to hear the governor blame racism every time he’s criticized over the next four years.