Photo: Getty

In one of the most depressing results of the 2018 elections, Democrat Andrew Gillum was narrowly defeated in his bid to become Florida’s first black governor. He lost to Republican congressman Ron DeSantis.

Gillum conceded the race in a speech just before 11 p.m.

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DeSantis, a three-term congressman from the Jacksonville area, is the fourth consecutive Republican elected governor of Florida, a winning streak that goes back to 1998. DeSantis, who initially started out as a dark horse candidate, shot to prominence with the endorsement of President Donald Trump, and handily defeated his main primary opponent, Florida agricultural commissioner Adam Putnam.

DeSantis won despite running a campaign that can only be characterized as a series of racist comments and fuck-ups. The day after winning his primary, DeSantis warned Florida voters not to “monkey this up” on national television, and later, Politico discovered that a top DeSantis donor had called former President Barack Obama a racial slur on Twitter. Just this past weekend, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, while campaigning for DeSantis, called the election “cotton-pickin’ important.”

For Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor who would have been Florida’s first black governor, it’s a crushing end to an astronomical rise that saw him win a stunning upset over more well-moneyed primary opponents and then lead DeSantis in most polling conducted prior to the election.

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Gillum didn’t shy away from talking about his opponent’s problem with racism, either. ““I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” Gillum said in a gubernatorial debate last month. “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

After this crushing defeat, Florida Democrats will very likely be asking themselves exactly what they have to do to win statewide races in one of the most consistently competitive swing states in the country.