Lessons from a gubernatorial loss GAZETTE: Many people felt your opponent and his camp made a number of racist appeals to voters during the campaign, and yet he prevailed. Do you find that disheartening, or is his razor-thin margin of victory a positive sign?GILLUM: I was disappointed, there’s no doubt about it. And I wasn’t sure that the play was going to work. But then, obviously, in the final analysis, while we may have moved a million more voters out, so did they. Trump had a 49 percent approval rating in my state on Election Day and they won with 49 percent. For as diverse a state as Florida is, we also have a lot of Midwesterners and others who are retiring to the state. Every little bit of progress that we may get by virtue of increasing diversity is eaten up in our state by older, whiter, and more conservative voters coming into the state. And so, [DeSantis’ campaign] had it right. It’s unfortunate, but the play was probably the best they could have [made] given what the circumstances were at that time.But I will also say I’m not disheartened, because in spite of how bad all of that was — and we didn’t even get the whole picture; what got covered wasn’t the whole of what was happening. The text message campaign was crazy! And as the saying goes, “A lie makes it around the corner when the truth is just backing out of the driveway.” The chasing we did of some of the text stuff was incredible. But in spite of all of that, we saw record numbers in a lot of our targeted categories turning out and impacting the race, I think, for the positive. So all is not lost in Florida, in other words.GAZETTE: Did the FBI investigation and ethics questions it raised about you damage your campaign more than you had anticipated it would?GILLUM: It was probably the most annoying part. It was ever-present all the way through, and it allowed them to go to certain underlying biases that served their purpose. Do I think it had an impact? I think it did. How big of one is hard to say when you’re talking about the numbers we’re talking about: a difference of 32,000 votes out of 8 million cast. It’s hard to say if one thing did it. But I will tell you, as someone who values very much my own personal integrity and had my family and my mother watching these commercials, it was very hard, because it speaks to your character.,GAZETTE: You ran on a clear progressive message in a very divided state. If you, Beto O’Rourke, and Stacey Abrams had won, people would’ve declared centrist Democrats finished. What lessons did you personally take away from the election, and what do you think Democrats should learn from it as we head into 2020?GILLUM: One, I’m reminded that you do have to compete everywhere. We had to move our numbers up among our folks across the state. And we had varying levels of success; we largely moved them up, but so did they. The campaign joked that maybe in the last three days I shouldn’t have been in the rural panhandle reminding people I was running for governor [laughs]. The belief that the limits of a progressive message are only in urban areas, I think is a myth. I think you can have that message and talk everywhere about it and demystify it for people in some ways. Because if it can be trumped up to “Oh, that’s just socialism” to believe that people ought to have access to affordable health care — well, let’s talk about what that means for you and be willing to go there with folks. I do think we busted the myth that you’ve got to run to the right in order to win in states like ours, especially in all three cases — Beto, my case, and Stacey. In my case, we got closer than any Democrat in 20 years in the run for governor. And so, if the other way was going to work, why didn’t it work before? My hope is that people don’t make the conclusion that because we didn’t win, that we should go back to where we once were. I hope that the numbers would suggest that isn’t necessarily the way to go.If I have something to share with folks who are running in the next presidential election, I’d say I do think we have to be careful with race, continuously, certainly for candidates of color. That it is still a third rail, and it is still very difficult to talk about. And it’s particularly difficult to address in a substantive enough way for people who really do feel like they get the biggest brunt of the negative impact of racism, while at the same time signaling to white people that you don’t hold them accountable for every bad thing that is done by a white person. I don’t know that I got all of it right. I definitely think that my comment, “I’m not calling him a racist, but the racists think he’s a racist” probably had as much of a motivating effect for his people as it did for mine. The going theory within our camp was “You can’t call him a racist” and “We’ve got to tread lightly with it,” in spite of how present it was. I had a different opinion about it and I went with my gut, and I don’t know if it was to the help or to the hurt. Harvard fellow Andrew Gillum, who almost won Florida’s governorship, talks partisanship, race, and how to attract voters In a historic 2018 election that saw a record midterm voter turnout, a record number of women elected to office, and a Democratic landslide in the House of Representatives, the Florida gubernatorial race between Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis, J.D. ’05, was among the most closely watched and closely contested.A young African-American with a progressive political message, Gillum quickly became a rising star on the national Democratic scene during a contest tainted by racist appeals, gracefully handling the slings and arrows sent his way. President Trump even threw his considerable influence among Florida’s conservative voters behind DeSantis. But after 8 million votes cast, and a state-mandated recount, Gillum lost by just over 32,000 votes.Now, a Resident Spring Fellow at the Institute of Politics, Gillum leads a study group and hopes to expand student notions of how to drive change in democracy today.The Gazette spoke with Gillum about what Democrats in 2020 should learn from his narrow defeat, the role race played in motivating voters on both sides, and whether he sees himself getting back in the electoral game.Q&AAndrew GillumGAZETTE: Your candidacy excited many people around the country, and not just because Florida is a swing state. Were you surprised at how much attention the contest, and you as a candidate, garnered nationally?GILLUM: I didn’t know that until after. While we were in the middle of the race, with the exception of when the president would weigh in, when I was moving around, I didn’t have the luxury of reading clips or any of that other stuff. It didn’t, in the moment, feel as big as it felt toward the last couple of days. When you compare the attention our race got in the primary to what Stacey [Abrams] was experiencing in Georgia, we were not really on the radar in the same way. And I get why. It felt a little bit different for us partly because nobody really thought we were going to win the primary. Once we got through the primary, it took a different life of its own, but that’s also the final two months of the race. Florida has got one of the latest primaries.It surprised me after our second debate, which was [only on Florida] television, but because of the race thing that came up, it just exploded. That felt very present to me because I would show up at my rallies and people had quotes from the debates on shirts and they were selling them. It sort of took on a life of its own. I guess in some ways, I’m thankful that I wasn’t as aware in the moment, because I think it would’ve been an added pressure. It would’ve been tough.GAZETTE: Remarkably, just over 32,000 votes separated you and DeSantis after the state-mandated recount. What do you believe were the decisive factors?GILLUM: The University of Florida produced a study in 2017 that showed for ballots that are rejected because of mismatch of signature, seven of 10 are people of color. If you’re in a rural county in Florida, it wouldn’t matter if your signature didn’t match; they know you, or the presumption is much more in your favor than against you. But in Miami-Dade [County], Broward [County], Hillsborough [County], Orlando — I’m not even suggesting that it is so much the race of the person as much as it is that these are big places and they’re more diverse, urban communities, and so the impact is more disproportionate. They’re also areas where you go in and you sign your signature, the clerk could challenge — “This isn’t your signature” — and they could move your ballot to provisional. And now, we’ve just had another federal judge say basically, “This signature ballot thing is a crock. It’s horrible and you’ve got to change it.”GAZETTE: So the signature mismatch provision was a reason?GILLUM: Clearly in the end. But going into the race, it’s hard to pinpoint just one thing in a state as big as Florida is. But if I had to go by the numbers, it would be that in Miami-Dade County, one of the more Democrat-rich counties, we underperformed Barack Obama and Hillary by percent of turnouts. Turnout was up, but in Miami-Dade and Broward, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton outperformed me by 4 points. Had we been able to move 1 more point up, it could’ve more than erased the 32,000-vote deficit that we saw. If I had to wonder why Miami-Dade [turnout was low], I would probably say the “socialist” hit was a big one. It didn’t make sense to me in the moment, and I didn’t think it was actually going to stick because if you look at my record, that’s not what it is. But the concentration on “socialism,” particularly on Hispanic radio, was impactful. “My hope is that people don’t make the conclusion that because we didn’t win, that we should go back to where we once were.” Nate Silver sees improvement, as results reflected predictions more often And the winner is: Who you think it is Related Each party has reasons to crow, as D.C. power realigns, analysts say One election winner: the pollsters GAZETTE: You’re here at the IOP leading a study group about what democracy looks like in an era of rapid change and unprecedented threats. What will you be focusing on and what do you hope students will take away from their time with you?GILLUM: I want people to know I was a local government person for 15 years, and before that I was an organizer. The reason I chose “what democracy looks like” as part of our theming is because it’s very easy to think that you’ve either got to be the candidate or to compete at high levels of political office to impact our democracy, when the truth is that there are so many ways in which you can engage — whether it’s through local government, maybe as a statewide elected official, but also, what role do activists play, organizers, what role do artists play, artists-as-activists? Who are the disrupters right now in American politics who contribute to changing systems, society, people, community, states, a country, a world? My hope is that young folks will leave here believing that there are a lot of theories of change on how you impact the process, elected office being one of them, but all of these other ways are also important and, we’ll show, highly effective.GAZETTE: You told your supporters on election night that you were “not going anywhere” and that you would “continue to work on their behalf.” How will you do that? What’s next for you?GILLUM: I made a commitment to a million voters, to include new registrants and those reengaging in the process. What I mean by “those reengaging” are the 2.6 million who are registered and did not exercise the right to vote. The only way this real change happens electorally is if people get out there and exercise the right to vote. So, along with a number of groups in the state, we’re going to commit to this million goal for 2020 to flip Florida blue.GAZETTE: Will you run for office again?GILLUM: I don’t know, but I can tell you this: I know that I’m probably not done.This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
UCA athletic director Brad Teague said his school was “moving forward with its fall campaign in all sports, playing a reduced schedule.”Tom Burnett, commissioner of the Southland Conference, said the board determined that an entire fall sports season wasn’t likely.___Five lower-level tennis tournaments in the United States in September have been called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.The U.S. Tennis Association — which plans to hold the U.S. Open and another tournament in New York starting Aug. 20 — announced Thursday the cancellations of all ITF World Tennis Tour and ATP Challenger events in other cities around the country next month. The Latest: Cowboys owner confident about having fans Associated Press The Cowboys say they are selling tickets in groups to try to prevent people who don’t know each other from sitting together. The club says fans will only be able to transfer tickets between family and close friends. The Cowboys aren’t saying how big the groups can be.Jones wouldn’t say how many tickets the team will try to sell. AT&T Stadium’s listed capacity is 80,000, and Texas coronavirus guidelines currently allow for 50% capacity. The Cowboys have already said they won’t sell season tickets in 2020.The club is planning to allow tailgating while saying groups will be separated by at least one parking space. All ticketing will be on mobile apps, and all concession sales will be cashless.All fans at least 10 years old will be required to wear masks “except when they are actively eating or drinking.”___ ___The West Coast Conference has postponed all conference fall competition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.The conference announced the decision on Thursday, saying the “welfare” of the student-athletes was the “guiding principle.”The league says it is working on plans to ensure a safe environment to conduct the 2020-21 WCC men’s and women’s basketball seasons in the winter.The postponement does not preclude schools from scheduling non-conference competitions in low-risk sports in the fall. ___Houston Baptist and Central Arkansas are still planning to play non-conference football games after the FCS-level Southland Conference decided Thursday to postpone league games this fall with the intent to explore playing those in the spring.Southland Conference presidents also authorized planning for spring semester championship events for volleyball, soccer and cross country, while allowing schools to participate in limited fall competition if they choose to do so.Houston Baptist plans to honor its existing contracts to play non-conference football games against North Texas, Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech. Central Arkansas intends to play its scheduled opener Aug. 29 against Austin Peay, and a game at Arkansas State.“While not unexpected, it is still a sad day for our fall sport student-athletes,” HBU athletic director Steve Moniaci said. “We are taking measures to ensure they can compete safely in a limited capacity this fall and be prepared should the league resume play and reschedule the championships for the spring.” Fans will be allowed into MotoGP races for the first time this season, at the Misano circuit in Italy next month.The region of Emilia Romagna has given the circuit permission to open to a maximum of 10,000 fans a day for the doubleheader of the San Marino and Emilia Romagna MotoGP rounds.There will be strict measures in place to protect against the coronavirus, and fans will not be allowed to roam around. The circuit has a capacity of around 110,000 including more than 40,000 in the stands and welcomed approximately 160,000 people across the three-day weekend last year.Organizers say in a statement: “It is a decision that makes us emotional because it also represents a green light for the restart of world sport finally in front of the fans.” Tulane University officials say they’re “actively pursuing” a new opponent for the school’s Sept. 3 home opener after the Southland Conference announced on Thursday it was postponing football and all other fall sports.Tulane had scheduled Southland Conference member Southeastern Louisiana for its season-opener at Yulman Stadium on the Thursday night before Labor Day weekend.The Southland’s decision to postpone fall sports while investigating the possibility of playing in the spring has put the Green Wave’s first game in doubt.Tulane plays in the American Athletic Conference, which for now has maintained its fall football schedule.Tulane was scheduled to play 12 games before the Southland’s decision, which for now has at least temporarily reduced the Green Wave’s 2020 slate to 11 contests. August 13, 2020 Those tournaments are ATP Challengers in Cary, North Carolina, and Columbus, Ohio, and ITF stops in Champaign, Illinois; Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Lubbock, Texas.The USTA says the sort of “controlled environment” that will be used for the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows “would logistically and financially be difficult to create” at the smaller tournaments that are being scrapped.___New Mexico State has postponed its football season because of COVID-19 concerns and state restrictions.The Aggies are the third independent FBS program to decide not to play in the fall, joining Connecticut and Massachusetts. They are the 53rd major college football program overall to opt out. The NCAA Division I league’s Council of Presidents voted on the move Thursday. The decision affects football, volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s soccer. The panel said any nonconference competition would be up to the individual school. The conference is made up of 10 schools spread across Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. It competes in the Football Championship Subdivision. Southern Conference Commissioner Jim Schaus said the move was supported by the conference’s medical advisory committee. “Ultimately, we felt it necessary to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Schaus said. ___ The first three MotoGP rounds were held without fans and no spectators will be allowed into the upcoming doubleheader in Austria.___French golfer Alex Levy has been withdrawn from the Celtic Classic, which started on Thursday.Levy came into contact with a friend who has tested positive for the coronavirus, the European Tour said in a statement.The contact happened while Levy was at home in France last weekend. When he arrived at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales on Tuesday, he tested negative. He is showing no symptoms, the tour said, but he has been withdrawn from the tournament as a precaution and must self-isolate for 14 days. New Mexico State noted it had four games left on its schedule, plus the state of New Mexico has a 14-day quarantine for those traveling into and out of the state.New Mexico State says it will explore playing football in the spring.“Rival New Mexico has postponed its season as part of the Mountain West’s decision to attempt to play in the spring.New Mexico State competes in the Western Athletic Conference for other sports, and that conference also announced it would not have fall sports this year.___ The Horizon League has joined the list of conferences postponing all fall sports competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.The decision impacts men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball. It also impacts women’s golf, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, spring sports that also have preseason competitions in the fall.The Horizon League’s board of directors and council will decide later whether fall sports competition can take place in the spring instead. Individual league members will make decisions on training, practice and recruiting in accordance with NCAA regulations, as well as state and local guidelines.___The Southern Conference has canceled its fall conference seasons, shifting competition to the spring because of the pandemic. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is confident about having fans for all home games, and the club has now announced details toward that end. ___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports