Florida Governor Race Turns Dirty Fast
TALLAHASSEE, FLA – October 30, 2018
Florida has a tight governor's race between Andrew Gillum, a Bernie Sanders-backed Democrat, and Republican Ron DeSantis, an avowed Trump supporter and Trump-endorsed Republican.
Gillum has come under fire for comments made to NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, during which he thanked “everyday folks” for donating to his campaign,but also gave a special thank you to billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer, two of the more controversial of his funders. “I’m obviously deeply appreciative of Mr. Soros, as well as Mr. Steyer, both men whom I’ve known for some time,” Gillum told NBC.
Gillum has not refused big money donations from a variety of sources, including such odious investors as Soros. In April, Gillum’s campaign raised $450,000, but more than half of that came from the Hungarian-American billionaire through a Gillum-affiliated political action committee called Forward Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Soros also made two six-figure donations to Gillum in 2017 and offered another large cash infusion during the final weeks of campaigning during the Democratic primary.
On the other hand, his opponent Ron DeSantis is trying to seize the initiative after being accused of racism after recently warning Florida voters not to“monkey” things up by voting for Gillum, who is black. Gillum claimed the comment was a “dog whistle” to racists, but DeSantis denied any allegations of racism, saying that the comment had nothing to do with race.
Some have questioned that denial, however, pointing to the allegation that the congressman was until recently a moderator for a group on Facebook which regularly posted racist comments and memes. The DeSantis campaign claimed that the candidate did not know he was part of the group and that he never had any active role in moderating it, but his wife, Casey DeSantis was still a member of the group as of last week. However, now DeSantis decided to attack Gillum, accusing him of being linked to political extremists
DeSantis is focusing on a Dream Defenders pledge that Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum signed promising not to take campaign donations from private prisons or the National Rifle Association to cast him as an extreme radical. The pledge also expresses the intent to shift resources away from "prisons, detention centers, guns and police" and toward programs that support the safety and basic needs of the people.
"Andrew Gillum signed a pledge with a radical group, the Dream Defenders, to sign up for a radical manifesto that attacked our police officers, that said they have no place in justice," DeSantis said less than five minutes into a debate last week. "He signed a manifesto that said the U.S. was the biggest bully in the history of the planet."
The group has a clear far-left agenda but not so extreme that Democrats distance themselves. It co-hosted a debate with four Democratic candidates for governor in June, and Gillum and the other three candidates signed its pledge.
Although made up largely of African-Americans, Dream Defenders membership includes other minorities and whites. Since the Capitol protest, the group has sought to become politically influential and has been engaging politicians.
DeSantis and other Republicans are using its positions on the justice system as well as its critique of Israel to criticize Gillum, who maintains he shouldn't be judged by everything the group says.
"You want to talk about division? It doesn't get more divisive than the Dream Defenders," DeSantis shot back.
The candidate pledge signed by Gillum says, "I will fight for a Florida that divests from prisons, detention centers, guns and police and invest in the basic needs and safety of our people, especially its children."
The Dream Defenders, in its Freedom Papers, goes even further to say: "Police and prisons have no place in the 'justice system.' Police and prisons aren't just racist, but they work to enforce the separation of rich and poor."
Speaking at a Jewish temple after the debate, Gillum downplayed the relationship with Dream Defenders, which has said Israel is a "colonial entity" built on "stolen Palestinian land."
"They want to say 'Gillum is an anti-Semite because a group organized to fight back against police brutality wherever it exists decided to support him. So we are going to take every position by that group and put it on Andrew's back and make him carry it,'" Gillum said. "'Forget his relationships prior to this point so that if we can stoke anger and stoke enough division.'"