Mayor of Tallahassee and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum visited Key West on Thursday, Nov. 1, drawing hundreds to Higgs Beach to hear him speak. City Commissioner Clayton Lopez and County Commissioner Heather Carruthers introduced Gillum, to cheers of support from the crowd.
Gillum focused on hot button issues for Tuesday’s election. “The governor has failed to expand Medicaid,” he said, “and we will expand it.” He promised that using federal money to expand Medicaid would be good for everyone, including those with insurance, so that overall the state can reduce costs and expand coverage. “We give more to the federal government than we bring home,” he said.
He also discussed his family history of education—Gillum is one of seven siblings and the first to graduate from college. He addressed education and low teacher pay: “We are going to pay teachers what they are worth,” he said, and noted that Florida was 45th in the country in teacher pay.
Gillum also discussed his environmental plan to capitalize on the Sunshine State’s potential for solar energy. “We live in the Sunshine State, and we ought to be the global leader on the production of solar energy. We should be innovative in energy and responding to climate change,” he said. “We should be a leader and not a follower.” He described the environmental degradation the state has suffered at the hands of Gov. Scott and said “We’ve handed over the keys to the biggest polluters in the state of Florida.”
Finally, Gillum discussed gun control: “If you want to carry the power of God on your waist belt,” he said, “there should at least be a background check.” He said, “If you want that kind of weaponry, you should join the military … no parent should worry about dropping off their kid at school and picking them up in a body bag.”
Gillum concluded with a message of uniting the state under a new way of thinking. He said, “A house divided will not stand.” He called his opponent, Ron DeSantis, “Trump’s acolyte,” and he said “What is at stake is who we are as a people.” Gillum answered questions from the crowd and press at the conclusion of the speech.