LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Florida is about to have an epic gubernatorial election, and the world is watching.

“I just got off the phone with a Belgium newspaper. And there’s one in Argentina waiting for a callback. It’s going to be nonstop,” said Susan MacManus about reporters wanting to talk about Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum.

The retired University of South Florida political scientist was the lead editor of Politics in Florida, a comprehensive examination of the people and cultures that make Florida the premier swing state in elections.  

CLOSE

Republican Ron DeSantis will face Democrat Andrew Gillum in Florida's race for governor. Wochit

MacManus said the ingredients for what is expected to be an expensive and intense fall campaign includes candidates with two vastly different visions, coupled with a tightly divided Sunshine State and spiced with an unconventional president who plays bare-knuckle politics.

The candidates offer vastly different prescriptions on health care, guns, education and workers’ rights.

“There is no area of commonality. Usually, there is. But with these two, whatever one is for the other is against,” said Charles Zelden, a Nova Southeastern University political scientist.

Purple Florida is not a middle-of-the-road state but a state closely divided between Republicans and Democrats — with about another third of the residents swinging blue in federal elections and red in state elections.

Former President Barack Obama carried Florida twice before Donald Trump won the state two years ago. In between, outgoing Gov. Rick Scott won two elections by fewer than 65,000 votes out of more than 5.6 million ballots cast.

“We are a red state with a large number of blue voters who can win, and this election comes down to literally you have to choose sides,” said Zelden. "You can't say there is little difference between the candidates."

Here are the issues that matter to the candidates and the voters.

More gubernatorial campaign news: 

President Trump: Impeachment vs. hail to the chief

If issues are what help voters decide, then the president casts a long shadow over the Sunshine State. Half of the voters tell pollsters the candidates' opinion of the president will be a factor into for whom they vote. Gillum, the Democratic nominee, has called for the impeachment of President Trump.

DeSantis, the Republican nominee, features Trump and his policies in his commercials and appearances. 

DeSantis promises to support the president. Gillum promises to lead the resistance against Trump's policies.

Both national parties will contribute money and workers to the fall campaign given the state’s importance in the 2020 election and the incoming governor’s ability to influence the drawing of statehouse and congressional districts after the 2020 census.

To the extent that issues will matter during this campaign, Trump as an issue might trump all others.  

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Economy: Great Society versus capitalism on steroids

Gillum supports a $15 minimum wage, greater access to health care, and an increase in tax on corporations to bolster spending. DeSantis supports a menu of low taxes, streamlined regulations, a smaller bureaucracy and will “rein in litigation” to stimulate economic growth.

The stark differences in the two approaches led longtime Republican strategist Mac Stipanovich to write in the Tampa Bay Times that the two candidates represent “an aggressive heir of Great Society liberalism who sees a much larger role in promoting the welfare of the commonwealth and a right-wing populist who feeds on the anger, envy and angst of those who want to make America 1956 again.”

Education: Public schools versus school choice

Gillum supports a $1 billion investment in public schools that would boost early childhood education, restore constructions funds and raise teacher salaries to the national average. To fund the program, Gillum would legalize marijuana and earmark taxes raised from its sale for the public-school budget. 

    DeSantis said he will bring “21st-century creativity to public education. In an interview with WTSP he explained a DeSantis administration would empower parents “to make decisions that are best for their kids.”

    A DeSantis education program would include “district managed” neighborhood schools, charter schools and homeschooling.

    “I don’t think in a big diverse state like Florida that there is a one size fits all solution,” said DeSantis.

    Autoplay
    Show Thumbnails
    Show Captions

    Guns: Assault ban versus 2nd Amendment rights

    DeSantis would have vetoed the three gun-control measures the Legislature approved after the Parkland High School massacre as a violation of Second Amendment rights.

    “We wouldn’t say if you’re 18 or 20 you don’t have a Fourth Amendment right and police can search your house without a warrant,” DeSantis said about the age-limit on gun purchases Gov. Rick Scott signed.

    DeSantis’ congressional voting record earned him an A rating from the National Rifle Association. Gillum brandishes his NRA F-rating as a badge of approval. He includes a ban on assault weapon and other restrictions on access to guns.

    “You know what? If it’s 21 to have a beer, what’s so radical about being 21 in order for you to have access to a gun,” Gillum told MSNBC about the 2018 law.

    In January, Gillum wrote a commentary titled “How to Fight the NRA,” that details how he defended the Tallahassee City Commission in court over an NRA suit over the Commission’s refusal to repeal an unenforceable ban on guns in city parks.

    “We want to stand up to bullies where ever they are,” he said.

    Immigration: Compassion versus security

    Gillum wants to replace Immigration and Customs Enforcement with what he said would be a “more compassionate and focused agency.” 

    “Illegals is not a noun,” Gillum said after an immigration debate with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. “You don’t get to call people illegals.”

    DeSantis supports the construction of a wall to deter illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. One of his campaign commercials features he and his son building a border wall with blocks. 

    DeSantis would require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers and vows to prevent any “sanctuary cities” in Florida.

    "There’s NOT going to be any sanctuary cities in Florida when I’m Governor! I’ve always opposed amnesty and stood up for the rule of law in our country. Cheap foreign labor is not an excuse to let lawlessness prevail in the sunshine state. We want people who come LEGALLY!," DeSantis tweeted in July.

    CLOSE

    Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis tells his daughter to "build the wall" in his latest political ad. USA TODAY

    Health care: A right versus a commodity

    Gillum calls for extending Medicaid coverage to 700,000 low-income Floridians under the Affordable Care Act. DeSantis voted repeatedly in Congress to repeal Obamacare.

    Gillum views health care as a “fundamental right” and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders' bill to provide Medicare for all.

    DeSantis does not think “childless, able-bodied adults” should be eligible for Medicaid. “Democrats are saying that there’s a bureaucratic right where you create bureaucracies,” DeSantis said. “You have a right to pursue the type of health care you want. Obamacare infringes on your freedom to be able to do that.”

    Reporter James Call can be reached at jcall@tallahassee.com.

    More: Racist robocalls tied to neo-Nazi group target Andrew Gillum

    More: Gillum faces questions about health care, crime, race and FBI

     

    LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
    Read or Share this story: https://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/09/08/6-issues-andrew-gillum-and-ron-desantis-florida-governors-race/1240631002/