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Democrat Stacey Abrams won the party's nomination in Georgia in May. The president criticized Gillum on Twitter, calling him a socialist mayor "who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city".

"I think McSally will win". "We need a governor capable of taming his tongue".

HATTER: Of the serious contenders, Gillum was the only non-millionaire or billionaire in the Democratic primary.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis used frequent appearances on Fox News during the primary-election campaign to deliver his conservative message to voters, helping him secure the Republican nomination for governor.

The GOP candidates in Georgia and Florida are big supporters of Mr. Trump, setting up stark contrasts in both contests.

"I honestly believe that the nature of this moment - what's happening at the national level - is fueling and will fuel a whole new segment of people who really want to see more decency, more respect, more humanity and also a brand of politics that says, 'I see you, I hear you and we have a plan to make your life better'".

Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Terrie Rizzo called his comments "disgusting" and said he was launching his general election campaign with "racist dog whistles". And that hope now rests with a progressive candidate who could become the first black governor in Florida's history. Bernie Sander, I-Vt. And he favors raising the corporate tax rate to pay for increased education funding.

He has claimed Gillum, who was an early backer and later a delegate of Hillary Clinton in 2016, will lead Florida down a path toward socialism. "They've done it before, and unfortunately, it was far too close to an election that I think impacted its outcome", said Gillum. We could not do it by ourselves exclusively here in the state of Florida because it would collapse the system.

Abrams, a former minority leader in the George House, faces Brian Kemp, Georgia's secretary of state. Gillum's victory caught many political observers by surprise.

The Republican Governors Association plans to target all three Democrats for supporting expensive social welfare programs, spokesman Jon Thompson said. "To characterize it as anything else is absurd", his spokesman Stephen Lawson said.

Gillum's victory on Tuesday was an unexpected one given he had lagged in most of the polling leading up to Tuesday's contest but outperformed the Real Clear Politics' polling average for the Democratic gubernatorial primary by a almost 3-to-1 margin. Independents, who are the fastest growing segment of the Florida electorate, represent almost 3.5 million voters out of the total of 13 million.

Juan Williams defended Gillum, saying he should not be pilloried for his response and that he did not use the "bullhorn" comment to incite further division. While his campaign was outspent, Gillum was backed by millions of dollars in independent spending by Tom Steyer and George Soros, among the wealthiest supporters of liberal causes.

The new approach - being taken by Gillum and also Abrams in Georgia and some Democrats in other states - eschews moderation and emphasizes advocacy of strongly progressive positions.