Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced his run for governor this morning in an intensely personal YouTube video touching on his own biography and the struggles he faced growing up.
With the announcement, Gillum, became the first major candidate officially running for Florida governor in 2018, though he’s expected to face a formidable field of challengers in the Democratic primary, including wealthy attorney John Morgan and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee.
Gillum, 37, who grew up in Miami, talked about the troubles his family experienced when he was a young boy. All of his older brothers had gotten in trouble with the law, and any given night, there might be a knock on the door from the police.
“I remember very distinctly my mother closing the door and just watching tears well up in her face,” he said. “I remember making the promise to myself that I wasn’t going to make my mom cry like that. If she was going to cry, she was going to cry because she was happy.”
Gillum said that while society “doesn’t look well” on people with a criminal background, he believes in second chances.
“I can't wait to move forward a vision in this state that puts people to work at every rung of the income ladder. That's what I want to do for the state of Florida," he said in the video, titled, "Bring It Home."
Gillum spent more than a decade on the City Commission before his election as mayor in 2014. Sources close to him say he plans to serve out his term, which ends in November 2018, and that he won’t seek re-election.
While the video was smooth, his entry into the governor’s race was anything but. On Tuesday night, he was forced to issue a public apology days after news broke that his office sent emails with political overtones and messages through web-based software purchased with taxpayer dollars. He promised to return to city coffers the $6,840 his office spent on products from NGP VAN, a company that specializes in technology for Democratic campaigns.
His candidacy was also something well short of a surprise. He acknowledged late last year he was considering a run after upping his profile campaigning for Hillary Clinton, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and sparring with Gov. Rick Scott. More recently, he launched a #DefendLocal initiative, which included a legal dust up with gun rights advocates.
A rally for Gillum is set for Saturday at Kleman Plaza. Doors open at 11 a.m.
Gillum opened a campaign account on Tuesday, though he reported no contributions or expenditures. And while he listed his home address on campaign paperwork, he gave his Mayor's Office number as his phone contact.
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