Florida Democrat and former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has publicly opened up about the night on South Beach that halted his promising political career. Gillum and his wife R. Jai Gillum spoke exclusively with Tamron Hall for the season premiere of her popular namesake show in an interview set to air Monday, Sept. 14.
The first Black person to receive a major party’s nomination to run for governor in the Sunshine State — and youngest elected official in Florida when he first entered public service — Gillum was once a rising star in politics.
Although he narrowly lost that 2018 race to Republican Ron DeSantis, Gillum’s popularity in his party and among his supporters was at an all-time high. He became a political commentator for CNN, and his name was even floated as a potential pick for the Democratic vice presidential nomination.
That all came to a standstill on March 13 when the 41-year-old former mayor of Tallahassee was found inebriated in a Miami Beach hotel room with two other men. The police had been called because one of them appeared to be having an overdose, and suspected crystal meth was found in the room, reported the Miami Herald.
An excerpt of his interview with Hall was previewed by ABC on “Good Morning America.” In it, Gillum seemingly confirmed that he was indeed in the photo a British tabloid circulated that was purported to be a shot of Gillum lying naked on the hotel room floor.
“When that photo came out, I didn’t recognize the person on the floor. That was not anything more than a person being at their most vulnerable state, unconscious, having given no consent, and someone decided to use a moment where I was literally lying in my own vomit,” Gillum told Hall.
While Gillum denied he’d taken any drugs, he did release a statement apologizing for having “too much to drink” and causing a “distraction” to the movement. Gillum announced he was withdrawing from public life and entering rehab for alcoholism and depression. He said losing the race had a more profound impact on him than he’d realized.
“This has been a wake-up call for me,” the husband and father of three said in a written statement released March 15. “Since my race for governor ended, I fell into a depression that has led to alcohol abuse. I witnessed my father suffer from alcoholism and I know the damaging effects it can have when untreated. I also know that alcoholism is often a symptom of deeper struggles. … I will be stepping down from all public facing roles for the foreseeable future.”
In the upcoming interview, Gillum shared how much shame he’s carried over his behavior.
“I’m still here by the grace of God. So much of my recovery has been about trying to get over shame. Shame is not that I did bad but I am bad,” Gillum told Hall.
Hall said Gillum was very transparent about his “fall from grace.”
“He does open up very candidly over what he says was a spiral in his life after he lost that gubernatorial race, the impact that it had on his marriage. … He doesn’t skirt around it … It’s uncomfortable to have someone with their loved one present tell the sordid details of what went on, but he goes there, we go there. There were no rules to this. It was more about a raw, real interview that he provided,” Hall said.