ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Democrats campaigning to lead Florida kicked off their campaign in Orlando Saturday.

  • An estimated 1,200 people attended event
  • Gillum, King kicked off gubernatorial event
  • Sen. Bill Nelson, other Democrats joined the event
  • Republicans kicking off campaigns in coming days
  • DECISION 2018: Latest News | Voting Guide

Gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and his running mate Chris King campaigned together for the first time at the Downtown Recreation Center off North Parramore Avenue. 

Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, used his 40-minute speech to pump up his promises to raise teacher pay, reform the criminal justice system and punish polluters in Florida.

"What sits beneath our names is a health care system that works for everybody, are teachers who need to get paid what they are worth, are kids who need an opportunity that should not be defined by their zip code, where they live, or what side of the track they grow up on," Gillum said.

Gillum and King were joined by Chief Financial Officer candidate Jeremy Ring and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried, along with Rep. Val Demings, State Rep. Carlos Guillermos Smith, and Sen. Bill Nelson.

Nelson, who is facing a tough re-election campaign against outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, said he has known Gillum for several years, and trumpeted his potential. He also said Gillum and King offered a stark contrast to Scott.

"I now have the pleasure of dealing with Rick Scott," Nelson said to laughter. "And you know, when we point out what he has done for the last eight years, and you juxtapose that with what Chris and Andrew are going to do for the next eight years, it's going to be a big difference."

Nelson said Gillum and King would bring a new epoch in Florida politics, in which all of the people are considered, not just some of them.

Over on the Republican side, Gillum's opponent Ron DeSantis will kick off his general election campaign in Miami Monday with his running mate Jennifer Nuñez. Their rally will be at the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library.

Rick Scott, meanwhile, is kicking off a statewide tour Sunday, which will is supposed to have stops in the Panhandle, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Space Coast, and Tampa Bay areas, according to the Scott campaign website. But no schedule is available yet.