Leading Florida Democrats are walking back their endorsement of Naomi Blemur after past Facebook posts showed the Agriculture Commissioner candidate calling abortion a sin and promoting or defending anti-gay comments.
Screenshots shared on Twitter showed a history of social media comments that some Democrats are calling “anti-choice” and “homophobic.” Prominent Democrats began retracting their endorsements or denouncing Blemur after her post history came to light.
Blemur, a pastor, businesswoman, and Miami-Dade Democratic Party Committeewoman, had solidified support from several South Florida Democrats in the three-way Primary for Agriculture Commissioner. However, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, State Sen. Annette Taddeo and State Sen. Shevrin Jones rescinded their endorsements after former Agriculture Commissioner candidate Adam Christensen on Saturday began tweeting screenshots of public posts made to her personal Facebook account.
One screenshot of an August 2020 post shows Blemur criticizing Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock for calling abortion consistent with the Bible. Warnock is a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. was co-pastor from 1960 to his assassination in 1968.
“Wow…this pastor has certainly taken a leap, and there is NO scripture to back it up,” Blemur wrote in the post, which came ahead of Warnock’s Special Election victory.
The post included three religious verses that are frequently used in anti-abortion messaging.
Blemur also commented about abortion, according to another screenshot.
“Abortion is a SIN. Just like any other sin, it will never be consistent with Christianity. Period. Christ came and died, to bore our sins. Through him, we can repent and seek forgiveness and restoration.
“The church is not a democracy, it is a theocracy. Our opinions and preferences do not trump the word of God. The word stands alone. Any man or woman of the cloth that suggests that SIN (any type of sin for that matter) is consistent with the word of God is a liar, and truth is not in them. Case close.”
In a third screenshot, Blemur appears to defend Kim Burrell after the singer was removed from a gospel music event following a sermon in which she referred to the “perverted homosexual spirit.”
“The ‘Gospel’ is the Death, Burial and Resurection of Jesus Christ – in that Christ, being without sin, died for ALL our sins, and through His Resurection, we have power over sin. NEVERTHELESS, in 2017, we have ‘Gospel Music Awards’ canceling a ‘Gospel Singer’ for ‘Preaching the Gospel’. #REALLY #SMH #ChurchlookUp,” Blemur wrote in the January 2017 Facebook post.
Another screenshot shows Blemur share a video of “ex-gay” speaker Jackie Hill Perry in which Perry says Jesus Christ “died for your lesbianism.”
“God died for YOU!!” Blemur wrote.
Florida Politics could not independently confirm the veracity of Blemur’s Facebook posts, which Christensen said were posted publicly to her personal Facebook page but have since been deleted. Nevertheless, Blemur has not disputed the authenticity of the screenshots.
Levin Cava endorsed Blemur on Wednesday. However, that endorsement was shortlived.
Levine Cava political adviser Christian Ulvert told Florida Politics the Mayor was introduced to Blemur during Leadership Blue in July and decided to endorse her because of her Miami-Dade connections. But over the weekend, Ulvert requested the Blemur campaign stop airing the endorsement.
“Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is a staunch supporter of reproductive rights and a fierce ally of the LGBTQ community, and comments made on social media by Ms. Blemur are not aligned with the Mayor’s longtime values and core beliefs. Since no correction of statements or direct address of those statements have been made by the Blemur campaign, I am advising you to please cease use of Mayor Levine Cava’s endorsement,” Ulvert wrote to the Blemur campaign.
Jones, Florida’s first openly gay State Senator, tweeted Saturday that his team was not aware of Blemur’s past posts prior to his endorsement. He issued a full statement on Sunday.
“As a strong voice for reproductive freedom and LGBTQ+ rights, I found (Blemur’s) past comments unsettling as they’ve come to light. These comments run counter to my record of protecting and advancing the rights of Floridians, and I’ve retracted said support from her campaign,” Jones tweeted.
Orlando Democratic Sen. Anna V. Eskamani, a progressive lawmaker and prominent LGBTQ ally, tweeted her opposition to Blemur on Saturday.
“FL Democrats do your research, we have three people running for Ag Commissioner including this person who is sadly anti-LGBTQ+ and supports abortion bans. She definitely didn’t tell me that when she asked me to consider endorsing her at Leadership Blue — glad I didn’t!” Eskamani wrote.
Blemur posted four tweets between Saturday and Sunday responding to her opponents, calling their claims “a baseless attack,” “mansplaining” and “laughable.” Accompanying a media release issued Sunday, Blemur tweeted that “the statement that is circulating does not speak to my values as a leader or how I will lead as the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.”
“As a wife, a mother, a community advocate and a minister, who serves as an elected Committeewoman for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, I have always been a vocal supporter of everything woman,” Blemur said in the release. “I am PRO-choice, and have always been. I am an LGBTQIA+ ally, and I will remain one. I believe in everyone’s right to choose and make their own decisions and government should not play a part in this.”
Blemur did not immediately return Florida Politics’ request for comment.
Taddeo, a Democratic Senator from Miami, was among the first public officials to endorse Blemur when she handed the candidate her support in July. In a statement to Florida Politics, Taddeo said she was rescinding her endorsement because of Blemur’s response to the claims.
“This year, in particular, I felt that the candidate recruitment for this office was weak and our options were limited. Recently, Facebook posts from Naomi have surfaced which have brought to light some of her past anti-choice and anti-lgbtq views. I was unaware of these past posts and furthermore am disappointed by her response to said posts. As Democrats we need to be willing to allow people to evolve over time and I myself am a big believer in counseling over canceling. But because she chose to call them lies instead of taking accountability I am retracting my endorsement and will be staying neutral in that primary moving forward,” Taddeo said.
Blemur, who is potentially the front-runner in the Democratic Primary for Agriculture Commissioner, is set to face two other candidates on Aug. 23. Both candidates, former congressional candidate JR Gaillot and cannabis activist Ryan Morales, are already criticizing Blemur as an anti-abortion candidate, with Gaillot fundraising off the revelations.
Gaillot and Morales have also called for Blemur to drop out of the race over allegations of falsified financial documents.
Miami-Dade Democratic State Sen. Jason Pizzo tweeted early Monday that he is endorsing Morales and had donated to his campaign.
Meanwhile, the Blue Wave Coalition of Miami Dade and Florida for Change endorsed Gaillot later Monday.
The Democratic nominee will likely face Senate President Wilton Simpson in the General Election. Simpson, who has raised millions in his Agriculture Commissioner campaign, is endorsed by former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The statement that is circulating does not speak to my values as a leader or how I will lead as the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. I will serve and fight for everyone’s rights no matter their gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or race. pic.twitter.com/Qvp6dtkqJo
— Naomi E. Blemur for FL Commissioner of Agriculture (@NaomiforFL) August 7, 2022