TALLAHASSEE, Florida — A late-season hurricane could prove to be a big test for Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum this election cycle.
However, based on his previous as Tallahassee mayor, there are questions as to if he is up for the challenge.
With barely over a month remaining until Election Day, Florida Republicans have gone on the offensive against Gillum, who has served as Tallahassee mayor since November 2014, over his handling of the 2016 Hurricane Hermine aftermath.
After the storm made its way through North Florida and into Georgia at the beginning of September, Gillum found himself at odds with Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), who is also running in this upcoming election as a candidate for U.S. Senate.
According to reports, Gillum declined help from the state government in clearing debris, including downed trees and fallen tree limbs.
Gillum’s effort to restore power to the city after Hurricane Hermine’s passage also left much to be desired from locals. At the time under Gillum, the City of Tallahassee, who operates the city’s electric utility, rejected assistance from outside power companies. They cited outside crews, unfamiliar with the city-owned utility system, could present “safety” issues, according to a report from Politico Florida’s Matt Dixon published on Sept. 7, 2016.
Also in that report, Dixon said Gillum’s handling of the storm situation and his ensuing feud with Scott loomed over his political future.
Some political watchers mocked Gillum as he warned Hurricane Michael could be worse than Hurricane Hermine.
So Southwood won’t have power until Christmas? https://t.co/GXh3LpoLQX
— Peter Schorsch (@PeterSchorschFL) October 8, 2018
Gillum’s Republican opponent Ron DeSantis has made it a campaign issue by calling the Tallahassee mayor unfit to lead.
The Republican Party of Florida followed suit by releasing TV spots hammering Gillum for his previous hurricane response effort, both dealing with what is alleged to be lapses in leadership in dealing with the restoration of power after the 2016 hurricane.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor