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Trey Radel-linked ad contains loaded lines about Andrew Gillum

A new advertisement cut by Republican former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel heaps Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum with uncomfortable levels of praise.

Whether through sarcasm or misdirection, the radio spot (see bottom of post) from his Freedom Council USA runs through hard-left progressive stances that won Gillum his party nomination and the support of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The script, while narrated in a pleasant female voice, uses blunt terms aimed more at mobilizing conservatives or inciting nervousness in the middle.

“Andrew Gillum is a champion of the people,” the ad begins. “He believes in democratic socialism. This form of socialism is going to do a lot of things to Florida.”

The ad then runs through a list of positions, from “government-run health care” to abolishing ICE.

“Floridians will pay more in taxes,” the ad says with gusto.

Perhaps most curious considering Radel’s role in the ad, the starkest line comes near the middle.

“Andrew Gillum will work to ban guns, and he will legalize drugs,” the narrator says.

Radel resigned from Congress before the completion of his first term a few months after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. He was the first member of the U.S. House ever arrested on a cocaine-related charge.

As for the positions outlined, Gillum has supported eliminating ICE in its current form, increasing Florida’s corporate tax rate, limiting access to high-capacity firearms, accepting federal money for a Medicaid expansion, and legalizing marijuana for adult use.

But he’s pushed back on descriptions of his positions in the words used in the Freedom Council advertisement.

For example, when Republican Ron DeSantis in Sunday’s CNN Debate accused Gillum of supporting “Medicare for All” in a way that threatened Medicare for seniors and health care for veterans, Gillum disagreed.

“Define ‘Medicare for All,’ ” he said. “Define it … What I support is expanding Medicaid for over 800,000 Floridians who deserve to have access to their own doctor.”

And while Gillum has tweeted “Legalize it,” he’s said nothing about cocaine.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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