Andrew Gillum’s victory in the Florida Democratic primary continues the trend of young, progressive candidates of color winning in non-traditional venues, says Northwestern University political scientist Alvin Tillery.

Tillery is an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University. His research and teaching interests are in the fields of American politics and political theory. His research in American politics focuses on American political development, racial and ethnic politics and media and politics. He can be reached at (mobile) 574-514-5758 or atillery2@gmail.com.

Quote from Professor Tillery

“Despite President Obama’s historic win in 2008, only two African-Americans, L. Douglas Wilder (Virginia) and Deval Patrick (Massachusetts), have won elections for governor in the history of the United States. In light of this reality, a Gillum victory in Florida, a state with an incredibly difficult history of race relations, would be a monumental achievement.

“Gillum’s primary victory over more centrist, corporate-backed candidates also shows that the Democratic base continues to embrace the party’s identity as a working-class party in this cycle. It also shows the growing power of voters of color and young white voters, who are far more comfortable embracing the party’s expanding diversity than some of the party’s leadership, which for some curious reason continues to hold on to the nonsensical idea that the sexagenarian and septuagenarian who bolted the party in the 1980s -- the so-called Reagan Democrats -- will come back to the party if they just tiptoe around all of the hard questions related to diversity, redistribution and guns.

“The fact of the matter is, there is a new base in the Democrat party, and these young, hungry Democratic politicians seem to have much better instincts about that reality than those who currently hold power.”