Steyer Begins Push for Florida Gov. Candidate Trailing in Polls

Preferred candidate of California billionaire is not considered among front-runners

Tom Steyer / Getty Images

Tom Steyer and his PAC NextGen America launched a six-figure media buy in support of Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum's (D.) campaign for Florida governor, despite recent polling showing Gillum trailing the field, often by double-digits.

A press release by the PAC did not detail the exact amount it will spend on two new video ads, but did indicate the push would "run for two weeks on various digital platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram."

"We know that young voters are online, and a strong and smart digital campaign will be key to pushing Andrew Gillum across the finish line on August 28th," Steyer said in a press release from NextGen America. "Andrew Gillum is a true progressive champion with a history of standing up for his convictions and doing the right thing. His lived experience, values, and ideas resonate with young Floridians across all backgrounds, and will help Democrats win up and down the ticket in November."

A poll released just last week from St. Pete Polls and commissioned by Florida Politics showed billionaire Jeff Greene and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham atop the field in a statistical tie at just over 21 percent. Former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine was not far off with 19.4 percent. Gillum trailed in fourth at 10 percent.

Gillum has billed himself as the "true progressive" in the race, echoing the campaign of political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and the California Democratic Party's recent endorsement of the intra-party challenger against incumbent senator Dianne Feinstein.

As far back as 2017, Gillum was receiving substantial soft-money help from hedge-fund billionaire and political activist George Soros, who started the PAC Forward Florida with the exclusive intent on boosting Gillum. Last month, Steyer grabbed attention for the candidate by also pledging a $500,000 "grant" to Forward Florida, and also pledging another $500,000 towards get-out-the-vote efforts and other sundry help towards Gillum.

The release also indicated that the ad buys were targeted to "likely primary and sporadic primary voters under 40 years old, over two-thirds of which are African American and over 60% are female."

Turning out these demographics appears to be the cornerstone of Gillum's strategy.

"Buoyed by [the] endorsement by billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer, who pledged to support his campaign to the tune of $1 million, Gillum's team says he can still claim the nomination—by shoring up turnout of the African-American vote," the Tampa Bay Times reported in late June. "It's a strategy that has narrowly propelled other progressive candidates across the country to primary victories. Gillum, the only prominent African-American candidate to run for governor in recent history, could gain from the same route."

Steyer has numerous other races of interest and ongoing political activities in the swing state.

The NextGen America press release said the PAC would be working to flip three seats from Republican to Democrat as part of Steyer's overall bid to help flip the majority power in the House of Representatives this fall and will also be doing work on behalf of incumbent senator Bill Nelson.