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It’s unclear how Adam Smith decided Andrew Gillum is Florida Democrats’ “best hope”

in Peter/Top Headlines by

Tampa Bay Times’ political editor Adam Smith just declared Andrew Gillum the Democratic frontrunner for Governor.

Based on what?

Before I go one inch further, let me say this. Gillum may be the frontrunner. He is a thoughtful progressive and charismatic speaker and if he can turn the ship of his campaign around, he could be the star many people already think he is.

However, as we sit here today, June 16, 2017, it is really hard to say that he is the “Democrats’ best hope.”

This claim is made without regard to any polling numbers and with, as the story notes, a series of out-of-the-gate problems; a “Mostly False” PolitiFact finding, an email scandal, an open criminal investigation and elections complaints.

Pause for a moment and consider the following three kind-of-important things Smith does not reference:

  1. The story ran on the same day Gillum’s hometown paper lead with the headline, “Leon has highest crime rate.” (This story follows the headline from a few weeks back about how Gillum’s city likewise has a serious crime problem.) That’s not good.
  2. Gillum has raised the least amount of money of the three Democrats currently running and one, Graham, has only been in the race for a little over six weeks.
  3. Gillum has spent more than his opponents and is currently spending more than he is raising (his soft account just posted that he spent over $100,000 already this month while raising only $10,000.) That is simply unsustainable.

So, by what metric does Smith make the frontrunner claim? Polling? No. Money? Um, NO! Press? Way no.

The claim is based on Smith’s opinion that Gillum is charming, charismatic and has more endorsements than his opponents.

But here’s where the Smith column truly confounds me. He references that Gillum got caught fudging numbers, is under investigation, used tax dollars to send political emails and hasn’t exactly managed the press effectively (well, except the Times apparently loves him.)

Yet, THAT series of negatives puts him at the front of the pack. How does this even make sense?

Look, I’m not saying Gillum is dead-man-walking. It’s too soon to tell. And I’m not picking any winners or even front-runners at this early stage.

But it’s really – REALLY – hard to say he is the “best” of the crew.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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