Born in Miami, Florida, on July 26, 1979, Andrew Gillum holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science from Florida A&M University, where he was very active in the Student Government Association. In early 2000, he helped organize a large “March on Tallahassee” to protest Governor Jeb Bush’s 1999 executive order abolishing affirmative action in state university admissions and state contracting. To reward Gillum’s activism vis-a-vis this and other matters, the Center for Policy Alternatives recognized him as the nation’s top student leader in 2001. In 2002, Gillum became the Florida Field Organizer with the People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF), spearheading its “Arrive With 5” initiative — a voter-mobilization campaign whereby young people pledged to bring five additional voters with them to the polls on Election Day.
In March 2003 the Florida Democratic Party recruited Gillum to serve as its interim Political Director, but just nine months later he returned to his previous position with PFAWF. Also in 2003, Gillum was elected to the Tallahassee City Council, a post he would hold for the next 11 years.
In late 2004, Gillum, in addition to his City Council duties, became the National Deputy Director of PFAWF’s “Young People For” program, a campus-based initiative designed to develop young leftist leaders across the United States. In 2005 he established the Young Elected Officials Network, which had a similar mission. The leading funder of this organization was George Soros‘s Open Society Institute.
In 2014, Gillum was elected Mayor of Tallahassee. In 2016 he was given a platform from which to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
On August 28, 2018, Gillum won the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial primary race in Florida. Among the more noteworthy endorsers of his campaign were Senator Bernie Sanders and the activist groups Democracy For America and Our Revolution.
To view Gillum’s positions on a variety of key campaign issues, see Footnote #1 below.
During his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Gillum released a video demanding that President Donald Trump be impeached because he had “obstructed justice” by firing former FBI Director James Comey.
In June 2018, Politico reported that Gillum had failed to disclose two home mortgages totaling $423,665 on financial disclosure forms dating back to 2014, and was thus in violation of state ethics laws requiring state officials to report any debts exceeding $10,000.
In August 2018, Gillum’s Republican opponent in the gubernatorial race, Ron DeSantis, said “we’ve got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction,” adding that “the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.” Characterizing DeSantis’s remark as racist, Gillum subsequently told Fox News anchor Shepard Smith: “Well, in the handbook of Donald Trump, they no longer do whistle calls. They are now using full bullhorns.”
The two leading individual donors to Gillum’s 2018 campaign were the prominent billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer. On August 23, 2018, Soros, who already had contributed $1 million to Gillum’s Forward Florida political committee, announced that he was giving $250,000 more. And Steyer, who had previously funneled $500,000 to Forward Florida, pledged another $300,000. These August donations coincided with a $3.5 million get-out-the-vote effort by a coalition of pro-Gillum leftist organizations. “I’m obviously deeply appreciative of Mr. Soros, as well as Mr. Steyer, both men who I’ve known them for some time,” said Gillum.
In September 2018, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Gillum “has aligned himself with several prominent anti-Semitic organizations known for promoting boycotts of Jewish goods and individuals,” most notably the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and Dream Defenders. On August 29, 2018, Gillum appeared on a podcast where he was asked to comment on a recent conflict wherein the Israeli military had killed 60 Palestinians — mostly members of Hamas — who were among tens of thousands of Gaza-based rioters trying to infiltrate the Jewish state with jihadists and terrorists. Gillum replied: “None of us can look at those images and be okay with it … at the hands of this [Trump] administration, we now have even cited more violence by recognizing Jerusalem to be the capital [of Israel] and also to locate the United States embassy there, again just adding more fuel to the fire. I think it was a provocation by the president that was unnecessary and it has been costly from a human toll.” Later in the interview, Gillum characterized Israel’s military response to Hamas rocket attacks as “an outsized response that has created a humanitarian crisis.”
Gillum’s affection for Dream Defenders was made plain in 2014 when he said: “We must learn from the successes of young leaders like the Dream Defenders and recruit, train, and connect thousands more local organizers and activists, particularly in underrepresented communities and regions of the country.”
On June 11, 2018, Gillum signed a pledge affirming his support for a Dream Defenders booklet titled Freedom Papers, which asserted that “police and prisons have no place in ‘justice’,” likened police officers to “slave catchers,” and stated: “Police were never meant to serve me and you … Police and prisons since their founding have always been about safety for the haves while wreaking havoc for the have-nots.” In an October 2018 podcast interview, Gillum said: “I’m for police accountability, but law enforcement … can’t do its job if it does not have a trusting relationship with the community. At the time that a law enforcement official has to go to a weapon, to a gun, to a baton, to a taser, then they have already have to go too far by their very presence. By the very trust that they inspire in community and in society, they are supposed to be able to bring most situations to heel.”
Notably, on Gillum’s watch, the city of Tallahassee and its surrounding Leon County metro area had been plagued by the highest crime rate in Florida for each of Gillum’s four years in office up to that point. In 2017, Tallahassee experienced more murders than in any previous year in its history.
In October 2018, newly uncovered text messages and email records showed that Gillum, during an August 2016 trip to New York, had accepted a high-priced ticket to the popular Broadway show Hamilton from Mike Miller, an undercover FBI agent who was investigating government corruption connected with Tallahassee, where Gillum was mayor. Gillum responded to the release of the documents by stating, “The goal is obviously to use my candidacy as a way to reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men.”
Also during the aforementioned 2016 FBI investigation of Tallahassee government officials, Gillum and his wife vacationed at an exclusive, $1,400-per-night luxury resort in Costa Rica with an entourage that included lobbyists, close friends, and investors Sean Pittman and Adam Corey. Corey, a longtime friend of Gillum, had developed the recently opened Edison Restaurant in Tallahassee with taxpayer money. Though Gillum claimed that the Costa Rican trip was personal in nature, and that he had paid for it (in cash) entirely on his own, emails subsequently obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat showed that during the vacation, Gillum had scheduled a May 16 meeting at the Edison between himself, Corey, and undercover FBI agent Mike Miller, who was posing as a developer. “Even without Corey setting up a business meeting during the trip,” stated the Tallahassee Democrat in June 2018, “ethics watchdogs said the trip blurs the lines between friendship and business, especially given the close ties between Gillum, Corey and Pittman and their dealings with the city.” In October 2018, Politico confirmed that Gillum had never paid for his use of the Costa Rican villa in 2016.
On October 31, 2018, Fox News reported that according to emails obtained as part of a Florida state ethics probe, Gillum had broken state law in February 2016 by using Tallahassee city funds to pay for a private round-trip flight on a developer’s plane. The purpose of the trip was to meet prospective campaign donors in Tampa Bay – lobbyists, local business executives, and high-profile trial attorneys. Prior to this revelation, Gillum’s office had falsely maintained that the trip in question was for official business.
In November 2018, Gillum narrowly lost the Florida gubernatorial election to Republican Ron DeSantis.
In the early morning hours of March 13, 2020, Gillum was present during an incident involving crystal meth at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel in Miami Beach. Specifically, two policemen responded to a cardiac-arrest distress call from the hotel just before 1 a.m. When the officers arrived at the scene, they found a Miami Beach Fire-Rescue team already there, treating a man named Travis Dyson, an openly gay male escort, for a possible drug overdose. An acquaintance of Dyson, Aldo Mejias, told police that Andrew Gillum was also inside the hotel room under the influence of an unknown substance and had been vomiting in a bathroom. Officers later reported that when they had tried to speak with Gillum, he was “unable to communicate due to his inebriated state.” In a statement issued that same day to Miami Herald reporter David Smiley, Gillum said: “I was in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends. While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines.”
On March 15, 2020, Gillum announced that he would be entering a rehab facility, explaining that after his loss in the 2018 gubernatorial election, he “fell into a depression that has led to alcohol abuse.”
In addition to his political activities, Gillum has also served as a Board of Directors member with the New World Foundation, the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and the Opportunity To Learn Action Fund. Moreover, he has been recognized as an “emerging leader” by the Congressional Black Caucus, Jet magazine, Ebony magazine, the Association of Trial Lawyers for America (American Association for Justice), The Drum Major Institute, IMPACT, and the Washington Post.