Meet the candidates

Ron DeSantis, 40, represented Florida’s sixth district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to Sept. 10, 2018, when he resigned to focus on his gubernatorial bid. While in Congress, DeSantis was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, a conservative faction of the House that advocates for a limited government. Before becoming a politician, DeSantis served as a military lawyer, providing counsel to the U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay. He is also a Naval veteran and a graduate of Harvard Law School. DeSantis is running on a conservative platform with emphasis on tax cuts, economic development and environmental restoration.

President Donald Trump endorsed his campaign, tweeting, “DeSantis is a special person who has done an incredible job.” Recently, DeSantis came under fire for attending four speeches from far-right activist David Horowitz, who is known for making racially-charged statements. DeSantis defended his attendance of the speeches in the last gubernatorial debate, denying his knowledge of these statements and saying that it’s impossible for him to know every statement that Horowitz has made.

Andrew Gillum, 39, is a career-politician who has been Tallahassee mayor since 2014. As mayor, Gillum protected “common sense” gun laws, defended immigration and advanced workforce training programs for underrepresented workers. Before being elected mayor, Gillum served as a Tallahassee city commissioner from 2003-2014. Elected at the age of 23, only a few months after graduating from Florida A&M University, Gillum was the youngest person ever to earn a seat on the commission. He’s running for governor on a progressive platform, and was the only Democratic candidate in the Florida primary to advocate for a “Medicare-for-all” single-payer health care system.

Gillum received endorsement from Bernie Sanders, who has been campaigning for around Florida in support of the Democratic nominee. Republicans have criticized Gillum for his performance as mayor, citing Tallahassee’s high crime rates as a major failure. He has also been in the news lately because his former associate, Adam Corey, was named in an ongoing FBI corruption scandal Tallahassee’s government. Gillum has not been implicated in the scandal, and denies any knowledge of wrongdoing.

Bill Nelson, 76, is the Democratic incumbent candidate who is running with hopes of serving a fourth term in the Senate. He was elected to the Senate in 2000, after representing Central Florida in the House of Representatives from 1971 to 1991. Recently, Nelson co-sponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017 in response to the Parkland school shooting. He also championed the Water Resources Development Act in 2016 with the goal of storing, cleaning and transporting clean water into the Everglades. Throughout his time in office, Nelson has also supported gay marriage, abortion and immigration rights.

Nelson currently serves as a ranking member on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and a senior member on the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Finance and the Special Committee on Aging. Major tenets of Nelson’s campaign involve a commitment to preventing Medicare and Medicaid cuts, creating high-paying jobs and investing in education.

Rick Scott, 65, is a Republican currently serving his second term as Florida governor. Since being elected to office in 2010, he’s operated on a pro-business platform, working to create jobs, cut taxes and deregulate industry. He opposed illegal immigration, saying that securing America’s borders is the first step towards fixing broken immigration systems. He’s also spoken out against Obamacare and advocated for more free-market competition in the healthcare sector. Although he supported offshore drilling in 2010, Scott is now running with promises to protect Florida’s ecosystems, placing emphasis on coastlines and wetlands.

Before becoming governor, Scott served in the U.S. Navy as a radar man aboard the USS Glover. He also gained notoriety in the business community after purchasing HCA, Inc., a healthcare network that owns over 100 hospitals. While working as a healthcare CEO, Scott aimed to reduce operation costs and patient mortality rates. He’s widely recognized as one of the wealthiest governors in Florida’s history, with a financial-disclosure report filed by the state Commission on Ethics valuing his was net worth at $232.6 million at the end of 2017. Currently, Scott’s investments are tied-up in a blind trust.

Donna Shalala, 77, served as University of Miami president from 2001 to 2015. While at UM, she worked to improve the university’s global reputation and to raise money for scholarships, academic programs and facility renovations.

Before beginning her tenure at UM, Shalala was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. She served in this position for eight years to become the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. In 2007, she also worked for George W. Bush as co-chair of the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. She is running for House representative based on a liberal platform, with promises to protect immigration rights and fight for DACAS and DREAMers. She also plans to develop legislation that protects the environment and works to reverse climate change, which she called a “dire existential threat” to South Florida.

Maria Elvira Salazar, 56, is a five-time Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist running on a Republican platform. She’s worked as a news anchor, TV host and political correspondent for numerous media outlets, including Telemundo, CNN español and Univision. Salazar studied communication as an undergrad at the University of Miami and later received a master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University.

Salazar is running based on promises to protect second amendment rights, pro-life values and Florida’s fragile coastlines. She said she hopes to tackle border security in a “humane way,” focusing on securing the border without separating families. She called the Republican tax cuts “the right thing to do” and promises to ensure that tax cuts are long-lasting and widespread.