2018 Governor's Race

In the primary election on August 28th Everglades Trust endorses Gwen Graham (D) and Ron DeSantis (R) 

“Florida’s wildlife, fisheries, beaches, rivers and lakes are being devastated by toxic algae that is now affecting human health and risking water supplies. Our next governor must be dedicated to Everglades restoration – and have the backbone to stand up to special corporate interests that have hampered progress for decades.”  – Kimberly Mitchell, Executive Director

The logic behind our endorsement of Graham (D) and DeSantis (R)

We have spent a considerable amount of time with all the candidates for governor. Adam Putnam was disqualified from the beginning because of his abominable record on water, waterways and the Everglades. On top of that, he has spent his entire political career being financed almost exclusively by Big Sugar – the sole beneficiary of a fatally-flawed water management system.

None of the other six are perfect, they all have strengths and shortcomings. Our mission is to save the Everglades and three vital coastal estuaries, so we considered many things, simultaneously:

  1. Are they funded by Big Sugar?
  2. Do they owe any allegiance to sugar?
  3. Are the people around them connected to sugar?
  4. Do they understand the urgency of Everglades restoration?
  5. Will they be able to work with federal partners?
  6. Will they trust independent science, or will they be swayed by sugar-funded science?
  7. Will they build a team of experts and then listen to them?
  8. Do they understand the environmental implications of status quo?
  9. Do they understand the economic implications?
  10. Do they understand the human health implications?
  11. How do they view clean water as a right for all Floridians?
  12. Are they cognizant of the importance of tourism to the state?
  13. Do they recognize tourism is not just about Mickey Mouse?
  14. Do they have a stiff spine?
  15. How enormous is their ego? Is it all about them?
  16. Will they keep their word?
  17. Will they have a healthy fear of the citizenry if they don’t keep their word?
  18. Will they be more likely or less likely to bow to the pressure of sugar in the future?
  19. Can they win in the primary?
  20. Can they beat Adam Putnam/Big Sugar?
  21. Will our endorsement help impact a win?

Most importantly is #22

 22. Who stands the best chance to make progress with a legislature controlled by sugar? We are dealing with a 5-alarm fire right now. The Everglades and both coasts of Florida cannot endure gridlock in Tallahassee. That would be just as bad as having a sugar-controlled governor.


Gwen Graham has been a stalwart supporter of Everglades restoration her whole life. She gets it – it’s in her DNA. While she has not been forced to make a decision to help or hurt sugar as an elected official (none of the D’s have), she fits the bill on most, if not all, of the qualities we took into consideration.


Ron DeSantis already has a record of standing up to Big Sugar. He voted against the sugar welfare program as a congressman in 2014 and 2018 and has rebuffed their threats and intimidation. And he made his decisions on his own, based upon principle, not our lobbying him. Sugar fears and despises him for it. A very good indicator of future performance is a look at past performance. He’s been a great advocate for Everglades restoration in his five short years in Congress. So, that pick in the GOP primary was simple.


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