Andrew Gillum Archives - Page 6 of 67 - Florida Politics

Lieutenant governor picks could have little effect in November

Gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum must pick their running mates by a Thursday deadline.

Based on recent political history, you can expect the candidates to bring some demographic and geographic diversity to the general-election tickets with their selections for lieutenant governor.

But while rumors and speculation swirl about who might be tapped by DeSantis and Gillum, history has also shown the lieutenant-governor candidates are not likely to have much impact on the outcome of what will be one of the highest-profile elections in the nation this fall.

The primary duty of the Florida lieutenant governor, a post that was re-established in 1968, is to succeed the governor if he or she is incapacitated or dies.

That transition last happened in December 1998, when Gov. Lawton Chiles died and Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay became governor, filling the office for the last month of Chiles’ two-term administration.

Talking to reporters after his primary-election victory, DeSantis, the Republican nominee, said his “first criteria” in selecting a running mate would be to find someone who could step in as governor if necessary.

A secondary consideration would be someone who could help him “advance an agenda” and perhaps have expertise on “certain niche issues,” DeSantis said.

“I don’t really necessarily just want somebody hanging around. I want them to be actively involved,” DeSantis said. “So I’m going to be looking for someone who can be value-added, not just in the election but once you become governor and are working to implement an agenda.”

Gillum, the Democratic nominee, will look at similar criteria, and both campaigns are likely weighing running mates that will broaden or balance the appeal of their tickets.

For instance, in the last gubernatorial election in 2014, both candidates had running mates from Miami-Dade County, which with 1.4 million voters has the largest county electorate in the state.

Both 2014 gubernatorial nominees also had Hispanic running mates, with Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos LopezCantera running as Republicans against Democrat Charlie Crist and his running mate, Annette Taddeo, who is now a state senator.

Another consideration in the process is the long-held mantra from political consultants that the selection of a lieutenant governor should “first do no harm.” That means the potential running mates must be well-vetted to avoid controversies that could damage the general-election ticket.

Missteps by a lieutenant governor have not seriously damaged a gubernatorial candidate in recent elections. But governors and candidates have parted ways with their running mates.

The last time came when Scott forced Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, the first African-American elected to the office, to resign in 2013 after she became embroiled in the investigation of a group linked to internet cafes. She was never charged with any wrongdoing. Scott picked Lopez-Cantera to replace her.

But lieutenant governors can also help governors. MacKay played a key role in the Chiles administration. And Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, a former Senate president, helped Gov. Jeb Bush navigate the legislative process during his second term.

Aside from the two major parties, Darcy Richardson, running for governor as a Reform Party candidate, has picked former state Sen. Nancy Argenziano as his running mate.

Ron DeSantis: GOP official ‘should resign’ for circulating ‘disgusting’ slave-related Facebook post

Ron DeSantis is recommending an Orlando-area GOP official resign for posting a meme on Facebook that claims Andrew Gillum is a socialist and wants African-Americans to be “paid back” for slavery.

DeSantis, the newly minted Republican gubernatorial nominee, said on Tuesday that Orlando County Republican Committee Member Kathy Gibson, who shared the now-deleted meme on Facebook, should leave her post, reports POLITICO Florida.

“Kathy Gibson should resign, and so should anyone else that subscribes to this sort of disgusting thinking,” DeSantis told POLITICO. “This campaign is about issues and creating a better Florida for everyone. That’s what Floridians care about, and that’s what we’ll continue to focus on.”

Gibson did not comment on the post to POLITICO. Instead, she questioned the integrity of the official, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, who highlighted the post, according to the outlet.

Gibson, through the meme, equates Gillum with Alexandria OcasioCortez, an avowed Democratic socialist who won an upset primary victory for a Congressional seat in New York earlier this year.

But the meme contrasts Gillum with Ocasio-Cortez by claiming Gillum is a socialist so he can pay back “his people” for “slavery.” Gillum is an African-American candidate running for governor against DeSantis. He has not made those comments, reports POLITICO.

According to a screen grab saved by another Orlando official, the post’s text in full: “Andrew’s got a little different take on socialism than Ocasio Cortez. Andrew Gillum says when he wins governor of Florida … ‘his people’ will be getting ‘paid back’ for slavery.”

Hill, the African-American Orlando official who saved Gibson’s post, wrote on Facebook, “Shameful and Despicable Orange County Republican Council Woman Kathy Gibson!!!!! Orlando doesn’t need nor want this type of politics!!!!!”

According to to Hill’s screenshot, Gibson added her own commentary to the meme: “Just what every Floridian is dreaming of. Going Backward, not forward. If anyone living in Florida at this time was a slave holder, had family that were slave holders or committed acts against African Americans please let Mayor Gillum know so he can bill you & your Family. Where I & our family lived, we were integrated in our schools & have since the 1930s.”

DeSantis quickly denounced the statements made by Gibson. But his campaign and party have been unable to escape criticism over race issues in the first week leading out from the primary election.

To recap: On Fox News, DeSantis used the phrase “monkey this up” while discussing what he believes to be his opponent Gillum’s socialist values. He also said Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, is an “articulate spokesman.” On Friday, it was reported by the Tallahassee Democrat that racist robocalls were flooding the homes of Floridians. The robocalls were denounced by DeSantis and were traced back to a neo-Nazi group in Idaho.

DeSantis last Thursday also removed himself from the Tea Party Facebook group, which routinely shares racially charged posts. DeSantis was a moderator of the page, but has denied willing affiliation.

Gainesville Democrats hit Ron DeSantis’ healthcare record

Gainesville Democrats held a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon where they lambasted Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis’ record of voting against health care protections during his three terms in Congress.

Alachua County Democratic Party Executive Committee Chair Cynthia Chestnut, Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, City Commissioner David Arreola, Florida’s 3rd Congressional District nominee Yvonne Hayes Hinson and Senate District 8 nominee Kayser Enneking all gave their own takes on what Florida Democrats say is DeSantis’ recording of “voting against Florida” in the U.S. House.

“Ron DeSantis has spent the last six years in congress attacking healthcare,” Chestnut said, citing DeSantis’ votes to “gut protections” for individuals with pre-existing conditions and his support for the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have stripped health insurance coverage from 67,200 people living in CD 3 according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Additionally, data compiled by the left-leaning Center for American Progress estimates that there are 280,300 Floridians living in CD 3 with pre-existing conditions.

There were no mentions of “monkey” comments or out-of-state racist robocalls — each of the speakers focused on the clear difference between Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and DeSantis when it comes to healthcare.

Gillum, who defied all polling by winning the five-way Democratic primary for Governor last week, is a proponent of Medicaid expansion as well as “Medicare for All.” It is estimated that Medicaid expansion provide health coverage to 800,000 Floridians.

“When you need healthcare in America, you get it by law,” said Enneking, a physician. “But this healthcare is often too late. ‘Trump Care,’ which is what they support, would deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

“Medicare is the best system of healthcare in America — why should Americans have to wait to 65, or 67 in Ron DeSantis’ world, to get it?” she asked.

Hinson, who faces incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in November, said she “believes healthcare is a right and not a privilege. Ron DeSantis thinks it’s a privilege.”

“As Governor, Ron DeSantis will deny coverage to 800,000 Floridians. Everyone deserves healthcare and I will make sure they get it,” she said.

Arreola, the youngest commissioner ever elected in Gainesville, said he spent some time as one of DeSantis’ constituents when he attended Flagler College. During his time at the St. Augustine campus, he said DeSantis cast votes that would strip away his coverage under the ACA provision that allows young adults to remain on their parent’s healthcare plans until age 26.

“Florida cannot rely on Ron DeSantis to expand healthcare,” he said.

Poe, who was elected Gainesville Mayor in 2016, said the stark contrast between the Republican and Democratic healthcare platforms would be evident up and down the ballot in November.

“For U.S. Senate, we have Bill Nelson, a staunch defender of healthcare,” he said, before reminding those present that Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging Nelson in the fall, “defrauded Medicaid” to the tune of $1.7 billion when he ran hospital chain Columbia/HCA.

To solve the healthcare crisis, Poe said “we need to elect Democrats top to bottom.”

First Andrew Gillum ad of the general: recapping ‘a shocker’ as ‘American way’

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum‘s first television commercial of the general election campaign reminds everyone what “a shocker” his primary victory may have been, but he prefers to call it, “the American way.”

Gillum’s 30-second ad,”American Way” is being launched Wednesday on both television and the internet.

With video following Gillum and his family to several events leading up to his victory party, the ad recounts how surprised everyone in the media appeared to be that the a man who was one of seven children of a construction worker and a school bus driver, who was the only non-millionaire or -billionaire in the field, who led in no polls, won the Democratic nomination.

“This is a shocker,” one anchor says.

“The American way still lives!” Gillum declares, as the video shows him wrapping a hug around his daughter’s shoulders. “And if the state of Florida has to show the rest of the world, then let it begin right here.”

Gillum’s ad is the first fresh shot of the fall campaign in which the Tallahassee mayor is taking on Republican nominee U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, who won his primary easily after receiving the endorsement of President Donald Trump.

The Gillum campaign said it is starting with a six-figure statewide cable TV buy, plus a separate internet digital advertising buy.

The surprise factor portrayed for the primary election is gone. Several polls in the first week following the primary have shown Gillum breaking out ahead of DeSantis in a tight race.

Campaign matching funds expected to keep climbing

Florida’s controversial public matching-funds program for statewide candidates remains on a pace to surpass a high of $6.1 million that was handed out in the 2010 elections.

Last week’s primaries eliminated four of the nine gubernatorial and Cabinet candidates who had qualified for the program, which has already topped $4.9 million in distributions during the 2018 election cycle, according to numbers posted Friday by the Florida Division of Elections.

But heading into the November general election, the remaining participants in the program include both major-party gubernatorial candidates, Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum, who have combined to pick up $1.47 million in matching funds. Also, the two major-party candidates for attorney general, Republican Ashley Moody and Democrat Sean Shaw, have received a combined total of $567,302 from the program.

In addition, Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who didn’t have a primary challenger, has already drawn $304,755 from the program as he prepares for a Nov. 6 challenge from Democrat Jeremy Ring, a former state senator from Broward County.

The program matches contributions of $250 or less from individual donors after crossing a set fundraising threshold. It has already exceeded the $4.3 million distributed in the 2014 elections.

The program has long faced criticism, with opponents saying the state shouldn’t help finance campaigns. Repeal efforts have failed in recent legislative sessions, while candidates who made the program a campaign issue had mixed results in the primary.

In the Republican primary for agriculture commissioner, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, who declined to apply for matching funds, topped a primary field of four that included Sen. Denise Grimsley.

Caldwell, who won with 34.6 percent of the vote, decried the use of the matching-funds program as “campaign welfare.” Grimsley, the only candidate in the race who tapped into the program, received $275,183 from the state.

“Public financing of statewide political campaigns is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a disservice to Florida’s hard-working families,” Caldwell said during the campaign.

Meanwhile, the use of the program did not appear to hurt Moody in the Republican primary for attorney general. She has now drawn $344,600 from the program, which was the focus of ads by her primary opponent, state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola.

White, who lost by 13 percentage points in the primary, sent out a flyer that highlighted paperwork filed by Moody seeking matching funds next to a comment attributed to her saying she stands for reducing government waste.

Moody campaign spokeswoman Christina Johnson countered that the program helps people combat self-funded candidates such as White, who poured personal money into the campaign.

Ryan Torrens, who was defeated by Shaw for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, received $88,694 from the program.

Shaw, who received a check for $17,425 from the state on Friday, has drawn $222,701 from the program.

In the governor’s race, DeSantis has drawn $975,836 from the program, while Gillum has received $495,065, according to the numbers posted Friday.

Outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who was defeated by DeSantis in the Republican gubernatorial primary, received $1.08 million from the program. Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who finished second to Gillum in the Democratic primary, drew $1.22 million from the program.

Don’t do it, Lauren Book

The Gwen Graham for Governor yard signs were not even down before the man who beat her in last week’s Democratic primary for Florida governor, Andrew Gillum, was being asked if he would consider her as a running mate.

There’s a reason God put Labor Day Weekend right after Election Day, and that was so the candidates who have spent the better part of a year crisscrossing the state in pursuit of votes get a chance to collect themselves after the grueling primaries.

Ron DeSantis, the Ponte Vedra congressman who is now the stand-bearer for the Republican Party demonstrated, with his dog-whistling ‘monkey‘ comment, why no winning (and exhausted) candidate should give interviews the day after an election. Is there any question that DeSantis would have been better off if he had said, as does the Super Bowl MVP, he was taking his family to Disney World for the weekend?

Instead, everyone wants to know who Gillum and DeSantis plan to pick as running mates. That question is quickly followed up with, ‘Who’s gonna win, Andrew or Ron?’

Give it a moment, people. Breathe. It’s gonna be a long two months to November.

In fact, that’s one of the many problems with Florida politics, that candidates spend about eighteen months running for their party’s nomination, then just eight weeks running in a general election. The Sunshine State would be better served if party nominees were chosen in the late Spring rather than when many folks are busy getting kids ready to go back to school.

But this is the system we are in, so the two candidates who shocked the political world by winning last Tuesday now must choose a dance partner by next Thursday.

If DeSantis wants to change the discussion from monkeys and racist robocalls, his campaign should start leaking his top one or two choices right before the Florida State football game begins at 8 p.m. Monday night. Then seize the initiative on the unofficial start of the general election campaign by unveiling his pick Tuesday morning.

Gillum, who probably hasn’t had a moment to himself to think about who he wants standing next to him for as much as the next eight years, is reportedly considering about five or six possible choices: Graham, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, Lauren Book, state Reps. Kristin Jacobs and Amy Mercado, and Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay.

For a variety of reasons, Gillum is under enormous pressure to select a female running mate. Choosing a woman would invigorate a constituency of the Democratic Party that is smarting after Graham’s loss. Everyone keeps saying 2018 is the year of the woman in politics, but with four dudes atop the two tickets — Gillum, DeSantis, Bill Nelson and Rick Scott — November 6 has the makings of a sausage party.

The animosity between the Gillum and Graham camps was palpable on the campaign trail and may be too much to overcome to add Graham to the ticket.

Murphy would be a formidable attack dog for Gillum, which may be needed in this campaign. But going the ‘Tim Kaine route,’ as one Democratic strategist described a Gillum-Murphy ticket, seems like an odd pairing.

Book, Jacobs, Mercado, and McKinlay each possess unique talents, and I’ll leave it to their surrogates to make a case for each of them. However, if I can personally appeal to Book, I have one message:

Don’t do it.

If asked by Gillum to be his running mate, politely but surely decline.

Lauren, you’re bigger and better than LG.

Book was recently re-election without opposition to a second term in the Florida Senate, where she has already demonstrated herself to be a capable leader willing to speak out against bullies (like former Sen. Jack Latvala) and for those who need a champion.

With her powerful father as her top cheerleader, Book is a political powerhouse, able to raise millions of dollars for any campaign on which she works.

It’s easy to understand why Gillum would want her as a running mate. She’s forcefully intelligent, telegenic, hardworking, and a prodigious fundraiser.

Gillum and Book on stage next to each other would communicate to many voters that this is not your father’s Democratic Party.

But Book should resist any entreaties to get up on that stage with Gillum.

First of all, she has more power in the Florida Senate, especially if the Democrats win the majority, than she would as Lieutenant Governor. The valets at the Governors Club have more juice than the occupant of LG’s office.

Second, Gillum’s chances of winning are, at best fifty-fifty. Book would have to give up her safe Senate seat to roll the dice with Gillum.

Third, whether Gillum wins or loses, Book’s time will come. If Gillum wins, she can be his staunch ally in the Senate and run in eight years when she’ll still probably be the youngest person on the ballot. If Gillum loses, Book is one of the front-runners to be the party’s nominee in 2022.

The bottom line: Book has a lot to lose just for a flipped coin’s chance of winning one of the worst jobs in Tallahassee.

Don’t do it, Senator.

Andrew Gillum: Gwen Graham ‘in the mix’ for LG pick

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and second-place finisher Gwen Graham ran tough campaigns against each other in the Democratic primary, but Gillum allowed Monday that Graham is “in the mix” for the Lieutenant Governor spot on the ticket.

The decision must be made by Thursday. Gillum is reportedly considering Graham, former U.S. Rep. Patrick MurphyLauren Book, state Reps. Kristin Jacobs and Amy Mercado, and Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay.

Speaking to media Monday in Jacksonville, Gillum didn’t sound like he was done with his vetting process. Yet, despite the sometimes chippy nature of the primary sparring between the two camps, Graham (the presumptive nominee until the ballots started rolling in from metropolitan areas) could be on the ticket, Gillum said.

Gillum described the LG pick as his “number one priority at this time.”

“Gwen is in the mix, of course,” Gillum said. “I’d say anyone who ran for governor is also in the mix.”

Whether Gillum will ultimately pick Graham or another primary rival such as Philip Levine or Chris King, remains to be seen.

However, for those who believe the ticket would be stronger with Graham — a strong draw with moderates and Blue Dog Democrats — there is still hope.

Andrew Gillum calls on Ron DeSantis to disavow racist robocalls ‘in his own voice’

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum appeared on a number of talk shows Sunday morning, and the questions ranged from controversies spawned by Republican opponent Ron DeSantis (the “monkey it up” statement) to the out-of-state racist robocalls disawowed already by a DeSantis spox.

His Jacksonville stop Monday revealed that those questions were far from retired.

Gillum addressed the “tone” of the DeSantis campaign, saying “we try to limit our back to his forth.”

“I have encouraged not just our supporters but also Mr. DeSantis to keep this race above board,” Gillum said. “It is extremely dangerous in today’s day and time to weaponize race.”

“I am not ashamed of who I am,” Gillum added. “I think when you make race a pejorative, it can be a dangerously divisive tool.”

As he did on Sunday shows, Gillum mentioned what happened in Charlottesville last year as an example of what happens when the fires of racial controversy are stoked.

“I was surprised how quickly … after we both secured our nominations that things kind of went south,” Gillum added.

The “monkey it up” statement, per Gillum, “was the beginning of a deep dive into the swamp” by DeSantis.

Gillum clearly was upset by the robocalls.

“I turned it off before I could complete it,” Gillum said, urging DeSantis to keep the discourse “high.”

“Because on day one, if folks already here ‘don’t monkey it up’ kind of talk,” Gillum said, “license” is created for “even more aggressive [language] in a darker direction.”

Gillum noted that DeSantis hasn’t personally spoken up against the robocalls, though a spox has.

“I assume that he opposes [them],” Gillum said, noting that DeSantis could actually learn from Gov. Rick Scott  in this regard.

“Gov. Scott, on his Twitter feed, in his own voice,” Gillum noted, “decried that tactic and that tool. I would expect Mr. DeSantis to do the same in his own voice.”

“It has not happened yet,” Gillum said.

Racists behind anti-Andrew Gillum calls could soon face the music

The individual behind robocalls targeting Andrew Gillum previously has been involved in racist attacks against California U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and former President Barack Obama and harassed the family of murdered University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

But now, he’s facing protests by accordion-wielding clowns outside his Idaho home.

Virginia entertainer Justin Beights, a resident of Charlottesville, says he wants to fight back against the hate that’s smeared his own hometown by ridiculing racists where they live, and racist attacks on Gillum may fuel further interest in his anti-Nazi campaign.

“I want people to join me in ridiculous and nonviolent and relentless ridicule of their pathetic use of our First Amendment rights,” Beights said.

Racist Robocalls

Scott Rhodes, the podcaster behind the Road to Power website, made national headlines and briefly took over the dialogue in Florida’s gubernatorial contest by funding robocalls belittling Gillum, Florida’s first black major party nominee for governor

The robocalls feature a narrator — supposedly Gillum — speaking in a thick accent, espousing “I’s be the mayor of Tallahassee” and proposing houses be replaced with mud huts after hurricanes. The robocalls also make mention of Republican Ron DeSantis’ recent “monkey this up” gaffe, with the narrator saying “he ignorant.”

But as racially charged as the language on the audio recording sounds, it’s neither the first nor necessarily the vilest rhetoric released by Road to Power. In fact, Rhodes has increasingly found ways to inject white nationalist rhetoric into the mainstream political conversation.

Rhodes’ group came out in favor of white nationalist Patrick Little’s U.S. Senate campaign in California by funding robocalls calling incumbent Feinstein a “traitorous Jew” and an “Israeli citizen pretending to be an American,” which earned the group international attention and condemnation.

Idaho newspaper The Spokesman-Review carefully chronicled Rhodes’ inflammatory rhetoric since his move to the state from California.

Last December, police in Sandpoint, Idaho said Rhodes handed out flyers attacking city leaders, putting CDs with racist audio in cars at a local high school and had been mailing anonymous letters harassing minorities in town.

And the Sandpoint Reader also reported Alexandria, Virginia police believed Rhodes had made harassing phone calls to Mayor Allison Silberberg and other city officials.

Rhodes foray into Florida politics with the Gillum calls was greeted with bipartisan condemnation. DeSantis spokesman Stephen Lawson told Politico the calls were “absolutely appalling and disgusting.” Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan called them “reprehensible” in The Tallahassee Democrat.

But so far, Rhodes has wallowed in the attention. When MSNBC host Joy Reid today called out the group for the Gillum robocalls, Rhodes on the alt-right social media channel Gab referenced a past Road to Power podcast where he’d called her by a racial slur.

Fighting Hate with Whimsy

The rise to prominent for Road to Power comes alongside a growing white nationalist movement in America, perhaps most exemplified by the Unite The Right rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, where marchers carrying tiki torches and Nazi flags marched the streets allegedly in protest of the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Charlottesville clown Beights says he grew angry a year later when, after Charlottesville denied a permit for another Unite The Right rally, city officials were besieged by calls from Rhodes.

“Should someone do something about this?” he asked on Facebook. He applied with the city to instead hold a “Festival of the Schmestival” as an anti-hate event, but the city denied the permit, fearful it would spark the deadly protests that occurred around Unite The Right.

But now, Beights turned his attention squarely at Rhodes. He’s organizing an Oct. 9 event outside Rhodes’ home (on West Pine Street in Sandpoint), where he wants clowns with accordions putting a message of non-hate on full blast.

“When he decided to mess with my hometown, I decided to get involved,” Beights told the Bonner County Daily Bee. “I figured I would use my First Amendment rights to do the same thing that Scott Rhodes has been doing all across the country.”

Beights looks to set a world record for the length of a mass accordion-playing performance — 9 days, 9 hours and 9 minutes.

On that front, perhaps Rhodes’ targeting of Gillum will spark interest in the clowning world. Florida until recently served as home to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and remains home to one of the largest concentrations of professional clowns in the country.

All he really wants is to make sure the clowns can play Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”

No matter if anyone playing has much experience at the accordion. Even if it’s no good, he figures compared to the dissonance of Rhodes’ antics, it will be music to the nation’s ears.

“I’m trying to change the way we view people like Scott Rhodes, Patrick Little, Richard Spencer, etc.,” Beights said.

“We give them too much respect when we treat them like members of a movement that have an ideology. We need to put them in the same category as those that believe in Bigfoot, Flat Earthers and other groups that could qualify as mentally ill.”

Andrew Gillum on Sunday talk shows calls for rising above racial rhetoric

Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum during a round of political talk show interviews Sunday morning called for racist rhetoric to be toned down in Florida’s gubernatorial campaign.

He also spoke to Republican opponent Ron DeSantis’ now-infamous “monkey this up” comment made on Fox News the day after the primary election.

“I do find it deeply regrettable, on the day right after I secured the Democratic nomination we had to deal with some of the dog whistles directly from my opponent,” Gillum told CNN’s Dana Bash on her “State of the Union” program.

The response came after Bash asked Gillum about robocalls reportedly released by an Idaho-based Neo-Nazi group.

Gillum, Florida first black gubernatorial nominee from a major political party, said he would like race left out of the campaign.

“I want to make sure that we don’t racialize and frankly weaponize race as a part of this process,” Gillum said, “which is why I called on my opponent to really work to rise above some these things.”

On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” host Chuck Todd asked Gillum if he was satisfied at how swiftly Republic leaders denounced the Neo-Nazi calls, the Democrat said he had been pleased by that but still felt DeSantis needed to show greater leadership on the matter.

“It’s important for Ron DeSantis to take control and ownership of his own rhetoric and words,” Gillum said. “People take their cues and act out in ways far beyond what’s appropriate in this environment.”

Todd noted DeSantis has declined an invitation to appear on the show.

On MSNBC’s “A.M. Joy,” Gillum told host Joy Reid that DeSantis should raise the rhetoric of the campaign.

“He’s a Harvard-educated man, surely he knows his way around the U.S. vocabulary,” Gillum said of DeSantis. “But he chooses rather to embrace these kinds of dog whistles and bullhorns.”

Gillum said his focus through the campaign would be on issues like health care and gun reform, and he returned to a regular primary message of financially empowering the low- and middle-class.

“I have not called him a racist,” Gillum said on Todd’s show. “What I will call him is someone who has worked to undermine the health care system and to give more and more money to corporations.”

Todd asked Gillum about the fact his candidacy thus far has been funded by billionaires like George Soros and Tom Steyer, but Gillum said a $2-million injection into his post-primary campaign comes mostly from small donors. Gillum noted his mother has been using auto-donations of $20 a month toward the campaign.

When Todd asked if Gillum expected more funding to come from the Democratic Governors Association, Gillum suggested Todd as a Florida native understood the significance of the race.

“You know this being a homeboy yourself that the implications here in Florida are so great not just in this race for Governor and the Cabinet but also in the United States Senate,” Gillum said.

Gillum also committed to make all his travel receipts related to an FBI investigation in Tallahassee available shortly after an ethics interview concludes this week.

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