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At Wynwood Mural Unveiling, Andrew Gillum Insists He Can Win Primary Despite Recent Polls

Disem and Andrew Gillum
Disem and Andrew Gillum Photo by Meg O'Connor
With just 21 days until the primary, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum now has something in common with the two Democratic front-runners in the race, ex-Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine and former Rep. Gwen Graham: namely, a prominent presence in Wynwood.

Over the weekend, Miami-based artist Disem used spray paint to create a mural of Gillum on a wall outside of 004 Connec on NW 24th Street. This morning, Gillum showed up to meet the artist and see the mural in person, which sits a few blocks away from Graham's Wynwood office and Levine's campaign headquarters in the hipster neighborhood.

Gillum, who was born in Miami, has been lagging in third or fourth place in most recent polls, but he's strongly supported by the progressive wing of the party — especially since nabbing Bernie Sanders' endorsement last week. Gillum says he's still confident that grassroots support can turn into an electoral surprise at the polls.

"The only poll that matters is the one on election day," said Gillum at a press conference on Tuesday. "I was campaigning with [Virginia] Lieutenant Governor [Justin] Fairfax, and he gave me particular inspiration because going into his election in Virginia, he was nine points down ahead of election day. At the end of election day after all the votes were counted, he ended ten points ahead of his opponent. A 19-point closing of the gap between when that last poll was taken and election day."

click to enlarge Disem and Andrew Gillum - PHOTO BY MEG O'CONNOR
Disem and Andrew Gillum
Photo by Meg O'Connor
Gillum's new mural came about after someone from the New Florida Vision PAC got in touch with Disem, who is known for his portrait work and his teal and pink signature, including on his mural of the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade on Calle Ocho and SW 22nd Avenue.

"I'm not huge into politics, but I had previously heard about what the mayor was doing and it just struck me, as someone coming from Dade County and as a minority. He's someone I could relate to, and I wanted to shine a spotlight on what he's doing," said Disem. "I think there's no better person to represent me than somebody I can relate to that's from the same city and has grown up with the same struggles that I had."

Under the relentless Miami sun on Tuesday morning, Gillum thanked Disem for the portrait, which was done entirely with spray paint. "It's incredible," Gillum said. "I'm blown away — you made me look handsome!" Gillum laughed.

Cars drove by the mural honking and waving as Gillum spoke to reporters and the artist.

"At the end of the day, my job is to get out and communicate that as the only nonmillionaire in this race, regular everyday people ought to have a seat at the table too; in fact, we ought to have a leading seat at the table," Gillum said.
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Meg O'Connor is a freelance journalist for Miami New Times. She moved to Miami from New York after earning a master's degree in investigative journalism from Columbia University. She previously worked for CNN's Investigative Unit.
Contact: Meg O'Connor