Ron DeSantis, a Florida GOP congressman, says that the Sunshine State cannot “monkey this up” in November by electing its first African-American governor, his rival, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
DeSantis, who won his primary race against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam handily Tuesday, made the remark during an appearance on Fox News earlier today.
The 53-year-old father of two, who has the backing of President Donald Trump, stated: “The last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
DeSantis also said this about his progressive opponent: “He is an articulate spokesman for the far left views and a charismatic candidate.”
Democrats jumped on the comments and more or less branded them as racist. The Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo quickly released a statement. It read, “It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles.”
Gillum’s campaign is trying to stay above the fray on this one, a spokesman, Geoff Burgan, simply stated: “DeSantis’ comments speak for themselves.”
DeSantis’ team defended him and responded to the controversy by arguing, “Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd.”
Uh Ron DeSantis just said FL shouldn't "monkey this up" by electing Andrew Gillum pic.twitter.com/nDPp3Hx7zc
— Steve Morris (@stevemorris__) August 29, 2018
After Gillum’s surprising win last night against former U.S. Representative Gwen Graham, some have described him as far left because he was endorsed by people like Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont and liberal megadonor California billionaire Tom Steyer, who is pushing hard for Democrats to campaign on impeachment.
However, Gillum’s brand of politics is more nuanced than that. His supporters say that the views he espouses are directly connected to his personal story which makes him an authentic candidate.
The man, who endorsed Hillary Clinton in her fight against Sanders in 2016, made gun control central to his political persona after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February.
The race for Florida governor will have national ramifications. Trump, who sees the state as crucial for his reelection bid in 2020, is already on the offense.
He wrote on Twitter, “Not only did Congressman Ron DeSantis easily win the Republican Primary, but his opponent in November is his biggest dream … a failed Socialist Mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city. This is not what Florida wants or needs!”
Experts predict that this could the nastiest political race in the country come November because the two candidates wanted to run against each other and are both viewed as extreme.