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Read our current and previous coverage of the 2018 election season as you prepare to cast your ballot. You'll find information on important races, explanations of constitutional amendments and details of local referendums.

Gillum Prepared For Ugly Debate With DeSantis On Sunday

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Julio Ochoa/Health News Florida

Andrew Gillum was in St. Petersburg Friday for his first campaign event for governor since Hurricane Michael devastated parts of the Panhandle.

The Democrat said he's prepared for a fight over the next 18 days, including a Sunday debate with Republican Ron DeSantis.

Gillum took the stage at St. Petersburg College's Gibbs Campus with a swipe at DeSantis for running negative ads as the hurricane came ashore.

“While people were running for their lives, trying to get helpful information as to how they could protect themselves and their families from harm’s way, he was running not only a negative ad, but a lie,” he said. 

Gillum said he will be ready to defend himself during Sunday's debate. The debate will be held in Tampa in WEDU’s studio and aired on CNN at 8 p.m.

“He's gonna call me a socialist, he's going to call me corrupt, he's going to throw his covered up versions of racial epithets, he's going to call me anti-Israel,” Gillum said. “He's going to do all those things. I’m warning you about this. Just be prepared.”

But Gillum told his supporters: "When they go low, we go vote."

The packed crowd of more than 200 submitted their questions as they entered the auditorium. After speaking for about 20 minutes, Gillum had time for about five questions from the crowd.

He was asked about topics ranging from education to the environment.

On gun control, Gillum said his support for background checks and a ban on assault weapons has made him a target for the NRA. 

“The NRA right now gets to run roughshod over gun policy in this state,” he said. “Well they've got another thing coming when we win this race.”

He said gun control is one step to reduce gun violence and crime in Florida's communities. His other proposals include new programs to mentor at risk youth and reforms to the court system.

On the environment, Gillum said polluters will pay their fair share under his administration.

“Some of our local government officials have handed over the keys to big development considering all development is good growth,” he said. “It isn’t. When you are developing environmentally sensitive lands, when you have pollutants running off into our water system, without regulation.”

The lack of regulation and over-development has led to the blue-green algae and red tide that is plaguing both sides of the state, he said.

Gillum hold another rally in Tampa on Monday when he visits the University of South Florida with Joe Biden and Sen. Bill Nelson.