Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum spoke on Florida State University’s campus in Tallahassee Friday morning, the first of five scheduled appearances on college campuses before the first weekend of early voting begins in the Sunshine State.
The FSU event started 90 minutes later than originally scheduled, and Gillum rushed off to his campaign bus after finishing his remarks. The campaign had issued a press release indicating Gillum would meet with the media after the appearance.
That appearance came shortly after a new batch of electronic communications were released from Tallahassee attorney Chris Kise, who earlier in the week produced more than 100 pages of records of texts and emails between Gillum and former lobbyist and friend Adam Corey, related to trips with lobbyists and developers and pricey tickets to a Broadway show, among other travels and outings.
The records have brought to light revelations in a state ethics complaint filed against Gillum, and a separate FBI investigation into city government. Gillum, Tallahassee’s mayor, has said he was assured by the FBI that he has not been the focus of the investigation.
The Phoenix wrote earlier that the turmoil could potentially damage or cripple Gillum’s campaign, less than two weeks from Election Day.
In his 11-minute speech to about 100 students and other supporters at FSU, Gillum emphasized the importance of voting in the election, saying that powerful interest groups don’t worry about the concerns of younger voters because they historically don’t come out to engage in the electoral process.
He said: “The reason why the NRA completely ignores our voices, and every year comes up here to Tallahassee to run roughshod over our Legislature, is because there are very few people who are holding them accountable,” he said. “The reason why our public money increasingly is being given away in big tax breaks to the wealthiest and well-heeled and well connected, is because we don’t hold folks accountable for the decisions that they make. The reasons why your teachers, your college education and the debt you graduate with never gets addressed, is because people don’t consider you a serious enough constituency.”
Gillum spoke just a block away from the Tucker Civic Center, an early voting location on the FSU campus that the state of Florida had originally said could not be used as a location for early voting.
But a federal judge struck down the barrier of not allowing early voting sites on college campuses in July, and now supervisors of elections in Tallahassee, Gainesville, Tampa, and Orlando have made such sites available for students attending colleges across Florida.
Gillum pushed students to prove the critics wrong when they claim millennials and Generation Z voters are apathetic.
“The way we prove them wrong is by showing up and voting like our lives depend on it!,” he said. “The truth is, your life does depend on whether or not you’re going to have a governor who sees you, who hears you, and reflects your lived experience.”
The youth vote was a crucial element of the coalition that helped Gillium get the 34 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. That catapulted him to the nomination, and the youth vote will have to come through for him again if he is to defeat Republican Ron DeSantis on November 6.
Raising the stakes, Gillum also mentioned the fact that the next governor will have the power to name three new members of the Florida Supreme Court immediately upon taking office.
State Representatives Carlos Guillermo Smith from Orlando and Ramon Alexander from Tallahassee were two of the speakers who warmed up the crowd ahead of Gillum.
After Gillum finished his remarks, he took a few selfies with fans and then hurriedly entered his campaign bus.
This reporter was the only one close to him as he ran on to the bus. Gillum ignored responding to a question on the latest series of messages released by Adam Corey’s attorney in connection with the state ethics investigation.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that the new documents show that an undercover FBI agent may have paid more than $4,000 in food and drinks for one of Gillum’s campaign fundraising events in 2016.