Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has secured the support of two major political donors in recent days, adding momentum to his campaign to be the state’s first black governor.
Liberal megadonor and NextGen America PAC founder Tom Steyer told The New York Times Tuesday he was pledging $5 million for Gillum, while former Republican donor Mike Fernandez said he was putting up $200,000 to back the candidate over GOP challenger Rep. Ron DeSantis.
The money from two huge donors could be a game-changer for Gillum in a race that has been decided by 1 percent of the vote in the last two gubernatorial elections.
Steyer is a California-based billionaire who made his fortune running a hedge-fund and has focused many of his political efforts on environmental causes. The Democratic megadonor gained increased attention over the past year by backing progressive candidates while also leading a campaign to impeach President Donald Trump.
“[Gillum]’s a fierce gun control person, he’s been a climate champion,” Steyer told the Times. “He’s called for the impeachment of the president. He’s been willing to talk plainly to Florida voters, and they’ve responded.”
Half of the $5 million pledge by Steyer will go toward digital advertising and the rest would be used to fund voter-turnout efforts, the Times reported.
Fernandez is former Republican donor who left the party due to Trump’s divisive rhetoric. The 64-year-old Cuban American previously supported Florida Republicans such as former Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Rick Scott.
“The soil in the U.S. is identical to the types of soil found throughout the globe, our America is an intangible dream crafted with diversity, ideas and actions and Trump and DeSantis dismiss such unacceptable,” Fernandez said in a statement to Politico Wednesday. “For this reason, I support Andrew Gillum.”
Gillum has edged a narrow lead over DeSantis in recent polls for a race that has historically been one of the most competitive in the state. Scott won the gubernatorial races in both 2010 and 2014 by about a 1 percent of the vote.
Gillum’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.