Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, suspended his campaign but never really stopped campaigning as Hurricane Michael battered Tallahassee and much of the Panhandle. The hurricane allowed Gillum to be among the community physically and virtually with a nonstop presence.
Gillum’s virtual presence allowed viewers to see his activity in the Tallahassee community. His work could not go unnoticed, especially due to the increase in his social media visibility during the week of the hurricane.
With his multiple updates each day on the work of different utility companies from all over Florida and beyond, residents were assured that electricians and lumberjack workers were diligently working until the power of every resident in Tallahassee was restored.
Prior to the storm, Gillum made a rebuttal on Twitter to President Donald Trump’s tweet.
After Trump attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual convention in Orlando, he made a tweet saying, “Great to see @AGPamBondi launch a cutting-edge statewide school safety APP in Florida today – named by Parkland Survivors. BIG PRIORITY and Florida is getting it done! #FortifyFL.”
Gillum seemed aware of the subliminal tweet and defended his city with the response of, “Hey @realDonaldTrump — don't come to my state and talk trash about my city while we are preparing for a Category 3 hurricane. We need a partner right now, not a partisan.”
On the same day, Gillum could be seen in the community assisting residents by filling sandbags.
Post hurricane Michael, one might ask, how could the mayor focus on a governor's campaign when the city that he was elected to lead has issues getting power restoed? Gillum showed interest in his duties as mayor and displayed to his community that he will work until the job gets done.
FAMU alum Cyrus Calhoun, a political science major, shared his perspective on Gillum suspending his campaign during the time of Hurricane Michael. “First and foremost, you have to remember that his current job is the mayor of Tallahassee, and Tallahassee was in near sight of Hurricane Michael. To continue on campaigning and going to different sites but your town which is home to over 250,000 people who are going to be hit by a Category 5 hurricane wouldn’t be very wise, and then on top of that if he is not there to support the citizens that he works for.”
Gillum stayed in Tallahassee during the storm and provided daily power restoration updates via his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. According to Gillum’s Facebook post on Monday, Oct. 15, utility workers restored 91 percent of Tallahassee residents’ power.
The insight of a current political science student, Tichina Knight, showed support for the mayor’s campaign decision. “In my opinion, Andrew Gillum’s actions during Hurricane Michael resulted in many people in the Tallahassee community to reference him with high standards. While some might have perceived it as a political stunt, I feel like it was just Gillum being the servant leader to his community that he has always been. While in pursuit of a higher office, he is still the mayor of Tallahassee and it speaks volumes that he didn’t continue to campaign in other areas while it was trouble back home. While the motives behind it might raise questions, I feel as though even if it wasn’t done intentionally, it was a great move for the campaign.”
It seems unlikely that Gillum’s campaign suffered during the week he spent in Tallahasee before and after the hurricane. With him staying in Tallahassee, he was able to provide updates via social media resulting in an increase in social media visibility.