Slamfest: Ron DeSantis lambastes Andrew Gillum at Chamber forum


Shortly after earning the “firm” endorsement of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis took the stage at the 2018 Future of Florida Forum to make his case and lambaste his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

“Andrew Gillum has been mayor of Tallahassee for four years. In each of those four years, Tallahassee has had the highest crime rate in the state,” DeSantis said.

That claim is based on a report that used FBI data on burglary and larceny rates. It listed Tallahassee as the tenth worst city in the country when it comes to property crime rates.

“One of the candidates seeking to replace him, his former chief of staff, has been sending out literature saying that last year Tallahassee had the highest murder rate and something needs to change,” he continued. “If that’s not an indictment, I don’t know what is.”

(Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil on Wednesday sent out an email, however, saying that “under Mayor Gillum’s leadership, violent crime is down 24 percent, and overall crime is down 10 percent with crime at a five-year low in Tallahassee.

“Mayor Gillum’s investments into more police officers, restorative justice, and community policing have made Tallahassee safer than when he became mayor, period,” said McNeil, a Gillum backer. “The political fear-mongering from his opponent is false, dangerous, and disrespectful to the law enforcement officers on the front lines fighting crime every day.”)

DeSantis hammered Gillum for supporting the abolishment of ICE and said Gillum wanted to dismantle other law enforcement agencies, too.

The former Congressman also raised the specter of George Soros, Tom Steyer and other out-of-state activists, saying those billionaire liberal boosters were using the Sunshine State as a “petri dish” to test their priorities.

“Many of these people are basically socialists,” he said. “Well they make money but they don’t want that for anybody else.”

When it comes to his own goals if elected Governor, DeSantis stressed the importance of appointing conservative judges to Florida courts.

“Our next governor needs to appoint solid constitutionalists to the courts, including our state Supreme Court,” he said, adding that the state’s top court has been “legislating from the bench for the past 20 years.

“Three of the four liberal justices are retiring. I know there’s been some controversy about who will get to make these appointment but I’m operating under the assumption that I’ll win, get sworn in and be able to make three appointments,” he said.

DeSantis’ appearance at the Orlando event was protested by Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who was highlighting the former Congressman’s “dangerous record of voting to rip away health care from millions of Floridians in order to give massive tax cuts to corporate special interests.”

Smith was an early backer of Gillum, endorsing him during the early phase of the Democratic primary.

Ron DeSantis and his running mate, state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, will face Gillum and his LG pick, Orlando-area businessman Chris King in the Nov. 6 general election.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


  • Judy Spangler

    September 27, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Just more LIES & FEAR MONGERING from Ron DeSantis…who has no ” platform” other than smearing his opponent with constant scare tactics and FLAT-OUT LIES…it is sickening and Floridians better think before they vote for a man who has no IDEA what to do if a hurricane hits…has no platform on dealing with toxic algae and improving the environment and who is nothing more than a rubber stamp for Donald Trump’s worst impulses such as drilling off our beautiful coastlines, which he PROMISED Rick Scott he wouldn’t do but has already put in motion and Red Tide Rick hasn’t said a word in protest. I honestly can’t believe anyone would support someone as incompetent as DeSantis…can anyone point out a single thing he’s accomplished in Congress since he’s been there?

  • Ray Tampa

    September 28, 2018 at 4:32 am

    Judy, your comments are right on point. Great job.

  • Stan d. Upnow

    September 28, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    @Judy Spangler(& Ray Tampa)—– What a BS comment from you! What “lies” and “fear mongering?”
    Try visiting his website if you want to see his platform on issues, instead of stupidly mouthing-off. And you seem to be woefully ignorant on the etiology of Karenia Brevis(aka, red tide), not to mention Ron’s plans to help control the human factor that might be contributing to algal blooms.
    What’s truly sickening is that anyone would consider voting for a Progressive-Socialist Liberal, like Gillum, who will re-shape Florida in California’s pitiful image if he has his way.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn