TAMPA — Michael Mauricio read and watched the news stories about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and the tickets that got him into a Broadway performance of Hamilton.
When he went to the West Tampa Branch Library to cast his early vote, he chose Gillum anyway, rather than his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis.
"It would take something bigger than that to get me to vote for Desantis," Mauricio said.
From his reading of how Gillum might have accepted tickets and a hotel room provided by an undercover FBI agent in 2016, Mauricio questions whether the candidate did anything wrong.
"I had already decided to vote for Gillum and that wasn't going to change my mind."
Mauricio’s sentiment was echoed by other early voters in West Tampa and those casting ballot at East Tampa’s Cyrus Greene Community Center.
The two candidates and what their parties represent are so different, said two dozen early voters interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times, it is hard to imagine what could bring them to flip.
"I'm for DeSantis. I was voting for him already," East Tampa's Eddie Perez said. When pressed on whether DeSantis could do anything to turn him toward Gillum, Perez said, My family comes from Cuba. I don't want a socialist governor."
Most Gillum supporters stuck by their candidate's claim he had done nothing wrong.
"This is an effort to persuade us not to vote," Connie Burton of East Tampa said. "And it's not a good effort. It won't work. You want me to care about tickets when we have a president who talks about grabbing private parts and brags he could shoot some in the middle of Fifth Avenue and get away with it?"