Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and his running mate, Chris King, stopped in Orlando on Thursday to garner three pivotal endorsements from mayors along the I-4 Corridor, attracting a small group of supporters and a smaller throng of protesters.
Standing next to a construction zone alongside I-4 in downtown Orlando, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman all levied endorsements for Gillum, locking down three predictable assets in a region historically sought after by state and national candidates.
"I am proud to stand with two of the best mayors in all of America, my friends from Tampa and St. Pete, to endorse the next governor of the state of Florida, Andrew Gillum," Mayor Dyer screamed
, trying to shout above both chants from fractious protesters and the countering chants from Gillum supporters.
"Our residents in St. Pete, Tampa and Orlando can make the difference in this race. I will tell you that statewide elections are won or lost on the I-4 corridor, and we're gonna win this one!" he added.
Mayor Buckhorn praised the democratic nominee for his economic policies and his goals to invest in public education. "Andrew's investment in our teachers, in our schools … is an economic issue. It means better prepared students to fill the better quality jobs that mayors are trying to create," Mayor Buckhorn said. "You can't do that if you don't invest in education."
Gillum, reacting to the protesters about 10 feet to his right, said, "This may not be what you expect me to say, but guess what, I want to be their governor too."
Thursday's backings follow a wave of high-profile endorsements earlier this week from Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló and President Barack Obama.
A late-September Mason-Dixon poll published Tuesday night of 815 likely voters shows Gillum and his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis at a close tie, with Gillum leading by one point inside the margin of error.
As Tampa Mayor Buckhorn endorsed Gillum in Orlando, the Republican nominee and State House Speaker Richard Corcoran held a campaign event in Tampa.
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