Democrats gubernatorial debate: 5 takeaways
- Gwen Graham, the leader according to the most recent polls, took the biggest hits. She struggled with a question from the Palm Beach Post’s George Bennett on whether she would campaign with Bill Clinton. She took shots from rivals on her family’s role in a major mega-mall just east of the Everglades in Miami. And she was chided for her vote in favor of the Keystone pipeline as a member of Congress.
- Polls say President Donald Trump is deeply disliked by Florida Democrats. But Trump proved divisive among the candidates. Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, who has made standing up to Trump a key campaign theme, was chastised by businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine for having referred to Trump as a “great guy.”
- The Democratic candidates have myriad proposals to deal with gun safety, feasible or not. King wants a “bullet tax,” Levine wants an Education Security Administration department like airport security TSA, Greene wants single-entry points at schools and Graham says she will sign an executive order banning assault weapons.
- Who is the most progressive? Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has carved the progressive niche in his stances on issues. He arrived at the debate with a ringing endorsement from Bernie Sanders, but would not say he is a Democratic Socialist. Gillum, however, did draw a key distinction between himself and his four rivals: He pointed out he is the only one of the five on the ballot who is not a millionaire.
- It was the last debate before the Aug. 28 primary. With three weeks left and some deep-pocket candidates like Greene, Graham, Levine and King, expect lots of ads on TV for the next few weeks.