While DeSantis has promised continuity with the Rick Scott era, those who have covered state government throughout his eight years know that some of the harshest battles were between the populist right in the state House and the more pragmatic Senate.
Gillum, a liberal Democrat, and DeSantis, who has tried to imitate Trump in every way, provided voters with a pretty intense contrast.
The Florida race in particular appeared to be coming down to the wire.
DeSantis stumbled out of the gate after winning the August 28 primary, telling Fox News that voters shouldn't "monkey this up" by electing Gillum, who was Florida's first black nominee for governor.
"Obviously, we do not yet have any vote totals here, the night before the election", he added.
In yet another misfire at the most steadily misfiring of networks, MSNBC accidentally aired the results of Florida's gubernatorial a race, as Deadline put it, "a wee bit too early" - the night before the election. But Republicans, including Trump, made an effort to tie Gillum and his record to the federal investigation.
He advocated for stricter immigration laws, repealing former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, and has said that he would have vetoed the legislation that provided stricter gun control measures after 17 people were killed during a shooting rampage at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Tim Hester, 64, of Pensacola, attended DeSantis' rally with Trump and said his vote for the former Congressman was driven in large part by Gillum's messaging. They deny the charges.
The big victor: You guessed it, the Democrat on the ticket, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who managed to secure a victory.
"This guy being in the Oval Office motivated me to come out and vote", Jeffrey Pinder said after voting at Edison Towers at NW Seventh Avenue and 58th Street. "Let the chips fall where they may".
As expected, statewide Democratic candidates fared well in South Florida, where the party dominates voter rolls.
DeSantis' victory keeps the crucial swing state of Florida in Republican hands for the 2020 presidential election.
DeSantis, who attended Yale University and Harvard Law School, resigned his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in September to focus exclusively on his gubernatorial bid. Neither Georgia nor Florida has elected a Democratic governor in 20 years.
Democrats viewed the governor's race in Wisconsin, where Republican Scott Walker was seeking a third term, as winnable.
Both candidates secured significant donations from real estate professionals in South Florida and throughout the state. In Kansas, Democrat Laura Kelly defeated Kris Kobach, a staunch Trump ally, where outgoing Republican Governor Sam Brownback suffered from low approval ratings.
Republicans, meanwhile, were eyeing potential pickups in CT and OR, both traditionally Democratic states.
In Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis was set to become the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a U.S. state, after NBC News projected him to win against Republican Walker Stapleton.