Black Republicans continue outcry over ad targeting Corey Simon

FDLCC gun ad Corey Simon
‘The dangerous, racist implications of this kind of imagery are unconscionable.’

A pair of Black Central Florida Republicans are the latest officials to denounce an ad targeting Republican state Senate candidate Corey Simon that some are arguing could qualify as racist.

Simon, a former football star who played for Florida State University and in the National Football League, is a subject of a campaign mailer recently sent by Democratic campaign officials hoping to retain Sen. Loranne Ausley in Northwest Florida’s Senate District 3.

Some say the mailer, which focuses on gun control and depicts Simon on a shooting target, calls back to a racist history of Black men as physical targets or characterizations of Black men as violent.

Simon’s campaign, local Republicans, the Senate President-designate and a Tallahassee-area pastor have already denounced the ad, which was put together by a campaign arm of Senate Democrats run by Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book. On Thursday, Deltona Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby and Seminole Republican House candidate Berny Jacques, both of whom are Black men, became the latest to come to Simon’s defense.

“The divisive, ignorant use of a Black man for target practice has no place in civil political discourse,” Barnaby and Jacques said in their joint statement.

“We hope that members of the Florida Black Caucus will join us in condemning this mailer, and those who approved its creation and distribution. We may not see eye-to-eye on everything, but surely we can agree that political disagreement should never include dangerous imagery of a Black man being used for target practice.”

On one side, the mailer contains cutouts of children backed by targets with bullet holes.

“Don’t let extremists like Corey Simon turn our schools into shooting ranges,” the ad reads.

On the flip side, the ad shows a picture of Simon displayed on a target stand. The ad, paid for by the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, includes a disclaimer mentioning support for Ausley, fellow Sen. Janet Cruz and Miami Senate candidate Janelle Perez.

“The dangerous, racist implications of this kind of imagery are unconscionable,” Barnaby and Jacques said. “To think that Florida Democrats Lauren Book, Loranne Ausley, Janet Cruz, Janelle Perez and God only knows how many consultants, staff and lawyers participated in and approved this hateful garbage underscores the partisan hypocrisy behind these Florida Democrats’ Black Lives Matter rhetoric.”

According to the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University, Black faces or live Black targets were popular in carnival games during the late 19th century.

Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor of the historic Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, told Florida Politics the ad leaned into social overtones that Black men must be violent and aggressive. He also called the ad “inherently racist.”

“As a Black man, I’m offended by that ad,” Holmes said.

Ausley — who is perhaps the most vulnerable Senate Democrat seeking re-election in a cycle where Democrats need to hold every seat to deny Senate Republicans a three-fifths majority — was asked about the mailer during a debate with Simon on Monday.

“I have no control over what they send out,” Ausley said. “I do not prefer these campaign tactics, I don’t think either of us do, but neither of us can control them.”

However, the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee told Florida Politics it has written approvals from Ausley and the two other Democrats named in the ad. The committee has not returned a request to present those approvals, a request that was sent before the debate.

Simon is a former Florida State University and National Football League football player and former CEO of Volunteer Florida who is in his first campaign for office. Ausley served in the House from 2000 to 2008 and 2016 to 2020 and was elected to the Senate in 2020. Both live in Tallahassee.

Senate District 3 covers Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla counties and part of Liberty County.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


7 comments

  • Just Asking

    October 6, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    I’m confused. What color should the man be, if his being “black” is the cause for hurt feelings? Would it be better if the man portrayed in that kind of mailer was white?

  • Mirror Mirror

    October 6, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Whoa. Does this mean somebody finally told Berny Jacques he’s black?

    • Tight Rope

      October 6, 2022 at 8:01 pm

      Be careful. Mike Beltran will sue you if you speak your mind about one of his clients. Berny’s his buddy. Barnaby is…well…someone’s buddy. Somewhere. If you’re a voter, that “somewhere” is right inside of a polling place on Election Day.

      All great guys.

  • Fed Up

    October 6, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    This is offensive to anyone who isn’t black.
    And by the way, since when do we capitalize the first letter of a color? “Black” is a color, not a nationality. Do these black politicians think it’s ok to send mailers with other men as targets, as long as they aren’t “black” men?
    What the heck is going on with our country?

  • Quick Question

    October 6, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    This actually makes no friggin sense.
    If the black guy is being portrayed as the “violent black man,” how can he also be the guy on the practice target?
    I think these snowflakes just keep looking for things to be offended by. Everyone mentioned in this article said the same or worse things about their own political opponents. Perhaps they should issue joint prayers to God for a more productive agenda to pursue.

  • Charlie Crist

    October 7, 2022 at 11:00 am

    Let me just set this straight [not in a sexual way] but this will be a very important Florida seat after Stacy Abrams wins Georgia and I win Florida.
    Loranne was the child of poor black sharecroppers in Florida and her complexion is naturally what we call “High Yellow” while Corey on the other hand was born to wealthy white parents Thurston and Lovie Howell. Corey as a child always loved to dress in “Black Face” and dance and sing “Minstral Songs” to his rich and uber raciest white parents. Well Corey’s love of dressing in “Black Face” continued thru his adult life.
    So there you have it. In the words of my biggest supporter Joe Biden “No Joke Jack”. I hope I do not to have to tell you that if you dont vote Ausley – Jack you ain’ black” – again – “No Joke Jack”.
    I hereby order all black folk and guilty virtue signaling white folk to Vote Ausley. No Joke Jack.
    BTW Joe Biden just was very busy when he came to Florida to discuss that little wind storm. He’s going to endorse me…sob…sob…hey wait a minute is that a “Hot Mike”????
    I had a special friend named Mike but thats another story.
    Charlie Crist

  • True Jim Davis

    October 8, 2022 at 1:13 am

    If I were advising Mr. Simon I would embrace the mailer:

    “It looks like Democrats are finalling supporting the Second Amendment. Of course they’ve been targeting uppity colored people since before the Civil War. Now you know why I’m a Republican

    …but I’m glad they’re coming around on the right to bear arms.”

Comments are closed.


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