Why Andrew Gillum’s Primary Win is So Important

The unexpected victory reflects a new paradigm in voter participation

Joe Brunoli
4 min readAug 30, 2018


Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, on August 17, 2018. Chris O’Meara/AP

The Florida gubernatorial primary victory is a huge win for Andrew Gillum, but it is also a significant win for Bernie Sanders and his Our Revolution organization, as well as all the other progressive groups that were supporting Gillum.

This win is also incredibly significant from an overall perspective because it proved three important things:

(1) Progressives can win in a state-wide race.

After Abdul El-Sayed lost the governor’s primary in Michigan, many were saying that a bold progressive platform could only win in very limited races in single districts, and for this reason the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was just an outlier, a blip, and all the mainstream Media outlets from CNN to Politico to the New York Times were crowing about how the Sanders Revolution was “sputtering” and how AOC did not have an impact outside her district, and so on.

The Establishment is trying to distance Gillum from Bernie. Don’t let them!

Gillum’s win flies in the face of all those faulty analyses. Gillum won against an Establishment favorite, Gwen Graham, in a statewide race that was hotly contested, a large scale primary in which over 1.5 million votes were cast.

(2) Progressives can expand the voter base.

Non-voting in America is a huge problem. While Trump-v-Clinton partisans rehash 2016 as if it were a zero-sum game, and Hillary supporters seek to pin blame on third party candidates like Jill Stein, no one is addressing the real problem: that almost HALF of all voters in 2016 chose “none of the above.”

Breakdown chart courtesy of Kevin Delin

Bernie Sanders made it a cornerstone of his campaign to encourage irregular or “unlikely” voters to come out to the polls. Indeed, Bernie defined his “Political Revolution” as nothing more or less than simply dramatically increasing voter



Joe Brunoli

Joe is a Yank with dual US-EU citizenship, who has a base in the States but travels Europe extensively, commenting on trends, attitudes, politics and more.