Andrew Gillum concedes race for Florida governor to Ron DeSantis

In a message posted on Facebook, Gillum vows to continue to fight for change in the state "in spite of the outcome of this election."

Andrew Gillum, seen here campaigning in Miami during the waning days of the Florida governor's election. CREDIT: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Andrew Gillum, seen here campaigning in Miami during the waning days of the Florida governor's election. CREDIT: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Andrew Gillum on Saturday ended his bid to become Florida’s governor, conceding the race to his Republican rival Ron DeSantis after a bitter campaign marred by racist innuendo and malfunctioning voting machines in majority Democratic precincts.

Gillum posted a video of himself Saturday, flanked by his wife R. Jai, in which he broke the news that he was ending his bid to become Florida’s first African American chief executive.

“R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida,” Gillum said, calling the contest “the journey of our lives.”


He said he would fight to try to create a more equitable voting system in the state, telling his supporters “this wasn’t just about an election cycle.”

“This was about creating the kind of change in this state that really allows for the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government and in our state and in our communities. We know that this fight continues,” said Gillum, the mayor of Florida’s capital city Tallahassee.

“We want you to know that we see you and we hear you and that your voices will continue to power us as we still stand on the frontlines right alongside you to make this a state that works for all of us,” Gillum said.

“The issues that we cared about, the issues that we championed, the issues that we feel even still today so passionately about still matter to us.”


He followed up those remarks with a series of messages sent on Twitter, including one thanking the “millions of Floridians” who had supported his candidacy.

The general election campaign got off to a bitter and polarizing start last August when, within hours of winning his primary contest, DeSantis introduced a none-too-subtle racial attack against Gillum in a Fox News interview, calling him an “articulate spokesman” for leftist views. He warned that “the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up” by embracing Gillum’s “socialist agenda” in Florida. 

Weeks later, Gillum had one of the most memorable lines of the entire 2018 campaign, when he said of his Republican rival and his many far-right followers, “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”


President Trump, a strong DeSantis backer, also sent out a racist tweet about Gillum as the election campaign drew to a close.

After the November 6 balloting, DeSantis held a narrow lead, which prompted Gillum to concede the race on Election Night. He retracted his concession days later as more votes poured in and the margin narrowed.

But a legally mandated ballot recount completed on Saturday showed that Gillum continued to trail DeSantis, whose advantage ultimately proved to be insurmountable.

Shortly after Gillum’s concession on Saturday, DeSantis sent out a tweet acknowledging that the campaign had been “hard-fought” and saying “it’s time to bring Florida together.”