DeSantis vs. Gillum: What You Need to Know Before Casting Your Vote

The midterm elections across America are right around the corner. Floridians will be selecting a new governor. Ron DeSantis is the Republican nominee and previously served as a U.S. Representative for Florida’s sixth congressional district and as a Naval lawyer. He is also a member of the House Freedom Caucus, considered to have some of the most conservative representatives in the U.S. House. Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee, is mayor of Tallahassee and before this role, he was the city's youngest commissioner. He is also the first African American nominee for Florida governor.

This is a pivotal election in Florida, especially for Democrats, as a Republican has held the governor’s office for the past 20 years. Additionally, this election seems to be a symbolic battle between the ideologies of the 2016 presidential race. Senator Bernie Sanders has endorsed Gillum and President Donald Trump has endorsed DeSantis. Before voting, it is critical to know each candidates’ primary goals, their stance on issues (because this will affect you and other college women) and how to cast your vote.

Republican nominee: Ron DeSantis

DeSantis’s platform focuses on education reform, illegal immigration and defending the right to bear arms. Regarding education, he wants to improve Florida’s curriculum guidelines and boost classroom spending for students and teachers. He has also denounced Common Core state curriculum standards.

DeSantis is aware that his conservative base is frustrated with illegal immigration, as Florida has one of the highest populations of undocumented immigrants of all the states. DeSantis, a supporter of Trump’s border wall, plans to end sanctuary cities in the state. When asked about dealing with family separation at the border, he stated that he believes in keeping the family unit together but to deport them back to their home country.

Like immigration, gun control has been a hot-button issue across the country. DeSantis is a strong advocate of preserving the second amendment and has not proposed any limitations on the right. He has an A rating by the NRA and says he would have vetoed the new gun restriction bill implemented after the parkland shooting.

DeSantis has also received a lot of publicity for two major reasons. First, he has a television ad that features him teaching his daughter to “build the wall.” Second, in an interview with Fox News, he made a controversial comment about his opponent, stating: “Let’s build off the success we’ve had on Governor Scott. The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.” 

Democratic nominee: Andrew Gillum

Gillum’s platform centers on health care, gun control and criminal justice reform. His support for a Medicare for all system has garnered him considerable support from progressives. The revised program would give government-run Medicare health insurance for everyone, not just those who are 65 and over. To support this Medicare for all systems he asserts corporations in the state will endure tax increases, not on the middle class.

Florida, sometimes dubbed as the “Gunshine state,” has the most concealed carry permits than any other state. This fact, combined with several mass shootings across the state has resulted in many calling for gun control legislation. Gillum supports what he calls “common sense solutions” to end gun violence. One of these solutions is repealing the controversial stand your ground law. Most notably, this law worked successfully as the defense for George Zimmerman who shot and killed unarmed Travon Martin.

Gillum is also a firm believer in giving criminal offenders a second chance. Thus, as governor, he plans to restore voting rights to most felony offenders once they have served their time. Furthermore, he supports the legalization of marijuana as a means to increase teachers’ salaries and to end mass-incarceration of low-level drug offenders.

Some may have concerns regarding Gillum because of an FBI investigation about corruption in Tallahassee. However, at this time, Gillum hasn’t been explicitly linked to the corruption or named in any subpoenas.

Why the election affects you

As college women, it is important to know each candidates’ stance on women’s health and higher-level education. Regarding reproductive rights, DeSantis explicitly states he plans to sign pro-life legislation. He hasn’t said how he plans to address increasing student loan debt but as a congressman, he proposed the Higher Education and Reform Act. This would increase attention to college alternatives such as trade schools, which on one hand could reduce competition, but could also make college less attainable for you. Under the Act, students attending these schools would be eligible for federal student loans.

Contrarily, Gillum is pro-choice and plans to oppose any attempt to make it harder for women to access healthcare. In order to fix state shortages in fields such as teaching, he plans to make public colleges and universities free for “those who commit to stay in Florida and teach our next generation.” Each of the candidates’ plans regarding these issues will undeniably have an effect on you, so it is critical to cast your vote for the candidate who serves your best interest.

How to vote

First, if you are not registered to vote, you have until Tues., October 9 to do so. Learn how to register to vote here. If you are registered to vote but not in the city of Gainesville, you will need to request an absentee ballot, the form only takes a few minutes to fill out but must be sent to your registered voting location at least 6 days before election day, you can request the form here.

You may think it's too early to vote but ballots have already come in. 1.5 million vote-by-mail ballots have been requested and five have already been returned. Other elections on the ballot include Senate, house elections and other local elections. Election Day is November 6, so arrange how and when you will vote so your voice is heard.