Rep. Ron DeSantis, the newly christened Republican gubernatorial candidate in Florida, said Wednesday that voters would “monkey this up” if they elect his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, who would be the state’s first African American governor.
During an interview on Fox News, DeSantis praised Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, as “an articulate spokesman” for those holding “far-left views,” but warned he would be damaging to the state.
“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state,” DeSantis said. “That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”
His comments brought a swift rebuke from Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, who said they were racially tinged.
“It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles,” Rizzo wrote on Twitter.
Gillum was a surprise winner in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. He has embraced liberal policies, such as a “Medicare-for-all” health-care system, but he has not identified as a socialist. He has the backing of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), among other liberal figures nationally.
DeSantis prevailed in the GOP primary with the help of an endorsement from President Trump.
“This is a guy who, although he’s much too liberal for Florida — I think he’s got huge problems with how he’s governed Tallahassee — you know he is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views, and he’s a charismatic candidate,” DeSantis said of Gillum during the Fox interview.
He also said Gillum had performed better than other Democrats in the primary debates.