Florida governor’s race: DeSantis defeats Gillum; both had strong real estate backing

Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum
Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum

Former Rep. Ron DeSantis won the race for governor of Florida on Tuesday night, defeating Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in one of the most closely-watched races across the country.

Gillum conceded to DeSantis at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday and delivered an emotional speech to his supporters vowing to continue to fight for his beliefs.

Both candidates secured significant donations from real estate professionals in South Florida and throughout the state.

In recent days, developers Don Peebles and Jeff Greene each gave $100,000 to Forward Florida, a political action committee supporting Gillum. The Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC scored contributions from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America ($50,000) and $10,000 from McCraney Property Company. DeSantis also secured the endorsement of the Florida Realtors following the Aug. 28 primary.

DeSantis, whose endorsement from President Trump boosted his nomination for the Republican party, pledged during his campaign to keep taxes low in Florida, and improve the coastline through beach restoration and flood mitigation. His chose Rep. Jeanette Nuñez as his running mate.

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In his victory speech, DeSantis also vowed to combat red algae and protect and restore the Everglades.

He secured contributions from deep pockets in the real estate industry like Len Blavatnik, developer Art Falcone, Toll Brothers co-founder Bruce Toll and Palm Beach broker Lawrence Moens.

Gillum, who grew up in Richmond Heights in Miami-Dade County, made history in August as the first black gubernatorial candidate for a major party.

Yet, an FBI investigation into alleged corruption at Tallahassee City Hall hurt his chances of winning the election.

Gillum spoke out in favor of creating more affordable housing, choosing developer Chris King as his running mate. King, who ran in the primary against Gillum, Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and Greene, is CEO of Elevation Financial Group, a Winter Park-based company that builds affordable housing.