Billionaire political activist George Soros continues to write six-figure political checks in the swing state of Florida ahead of the 2018 elections, the latest being a $250,000 drop to Forward Florida, a political action committee supporting Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his run for governor.
Soros contributed $200,000 to Forward Florida in 2017. When adding that to a $50,000 donation from Alex Soros, son of the hedge fund billionaire, the Soros family has staked half-a-million dollars on Gillum via the PAC.
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As the Washington Post reported in late April, the Democratic primary races for governor in several states are "emerging as central battlegrounds in the broader struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party." The same article also pointed out that the governor's races are sometimes more responsive to the party's grassroots because, "unlike congressional races, where the parties' campaign committees have intervened in primaries, there's no national group that takes sides in choosing the nominee."
It is against this backdrop of choosing and shaping the issues crucial to the Democratic Party's future that Gillum has repeatedly sold himself as the only "true progressive" in the race.
The Soros donation to Forward Florida, reported by the Tampa Bay Times, represented a huge chunk of the total funds raised in April to support the Gillum candidacy. The Times noted that Gillum's campaign raised about $114,000 in direct contributions to his campaign—usually called "hard money" donations—while Forward Florida netted just over $333,000.
Gillum has also been a favorite of the Hollywood class, having been invited to a Southern California fundraiser in March promoted by Alec Baldwin and Alyssa Milano.
Gillum's campaign did not respond to a request for comment. However, campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan told the Times, "Mayor Gillum, the son of a construction worker and a bus driver, is proud to have thousands of Floridians supporting him in this race, as well as one of the most prominent Democratic donors in America."
Because of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this year, gun control has emerged as a major topic of the election.
Apart from the donation Soros made to Forward Florida, he also recently made a $450,000 donation to United for Progress, another PAC based in the state, which has said it will be focused on "[building] community-based political power and influence in the growing Puerto Rican and Latino constituencies in Florida."
United for Progress PAC is known to have campaigned against Senator Marco Rubio's reelection in 2016, but as of yet, there are no signals as to whether or not the PAC might play in the contentious senate race between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and Republican governor Rick Scott.