Andrew Gillum Indictment Sparks Speculation on What Florida Could Have Been

The indictment of former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has led to speculation on Twitter about what might have been if he had won the 2018 governor's race.

Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, scored a narrow victory over Gillum almost four years ago and some social media users pointed out the possibility that Gillum could be governor today but for a relatively small number of votes.

Gillum was indicted on Wednesday on 21 federal charges including wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI. He is charged along with fellow Democrat Sharon Lettman-Hicks with fraudulently fundraising from "various entities" from 2016 to 2019.

Gillum, a former mayor of Tallahassee, denied the charges in a written statement and called the case "political."

Some Twitter users were reminded of DeSantis' narrow victory over Gillum. The Republican won 49.6 percent of the vote to Gillum's 49.2 percent, while other social media users imagined how Gillum might have governed. That was a margin of just 32,463 votes in an election where more than 8 million people voted.

Jeff Blehar, co-host of National Review's Political Beats podcast, made a similar point about the close 2018 election.

"33,000 votes is the difference between barely recognizable alternate political universes," Blehar wrote.

DeSantis, a conservative Republican, has supported a controversial Florida education law that critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which led to a major dispute with the Walt Disney Company. Gillum is a progressive who supported the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the 2018 campaign, as well as expanding Medicare and the removal of Confederate memorials.

Jack Posobiec, senior editor at conservative news website Human Events, pointed to former President Donald Trump's 2018 endorsement of DeSantis, who is seeking a second term this year.

"Trump really saved Florida when he pushed DeSantis past Gillum," he wrote. "0.4% difference in 2018 and Gillum would be governor today."

There was also criticism of Gillum and his hypothetical stint as governor, with some making reference to DeSantis' approach to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures. The governor has previously said he regretted not opposing restrictions introduced by Trump.

Karol Markowicz, a columnist with The New York Post, tweeted: "The country dodged such a bullet. If Gillum had won we'd probably still be in various stages of lockdown because there would have been no Gov. DeSantis to say 'wait, this is stupid.'"

Nick Adams, who describes himself as a best selling author "endorsed by President Trump," wrote: "Thank God that Ron DeSantis beat Andrew Gillum in 2018."

Brigitte Gabriel, chairman of conservative group ACT for America, tweeted: "Andrew Gillum is a typical Democrat politician, he just got caught."

In his statement on Wednesday, Gillum said: "Every campaign I've run has been done with integrity. Make no mistake that this case is not legal, it is political. Throughout my career I have always stood up for the people of Florida and have spoken truth to power."

"There's been a target on my back ever since I was the mayor of Tallahassee. They found nothing then, and I have full confidence that my legal team will prove my innocence now," he said.

Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum
In this combination image, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pictured 17 June, 2022 and Andrew Gillum attends the META - Convened by BET Networks at The Edition Hotel on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles. Gillum has been indicted on 21 charges including wire fraud. Getty