- With the backing of President Donald Trump and more than 100 appearances on Fox News under his belt, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis sailed to victory in Florida's Republican primary for governor Tuesday, defeating a longtime favorite of the GOP establishment with a campaign based largely around the president.
From the beginning of the campaign, he visited African-American churches.
His comments brought a swift rebuke from Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, who said they were racially tinged.
The newly anointed GOP candidate, now U.S. Representative for Florida's 6th congressional district, went on Fox News on Wednesday to criticize his opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, mayor of the state's capital city, Tallahassee. "To characterize it as anything else is absurd", his spokesman Stephen Lawson said.
The victor of the Florida governor's race will give his party an advantage in a key political battleground heading into the 2020 presidential campaign.
The Fox News anchor who interviewed DeSantis later weighed in on the matter, saying "we do not condone this language" while also alerting viewers to DeSantis' response.
At the same time, Gillum escaped some of the scrutiny of other Democratic candidates and his embrace of liberal policies like Medicare for all clashes with Nelson's ultra cautious, middle-0f-the-road politics.
"What we're going to do, however, is to stay very, very super-concentrated on what are the experiences, the everyday experiences of people in this state, and what we as the next governor can do to make their lives better", Gillum said.
Gillum, a strong legalization advocate, shocked the political world on Tuesday night.
And in a close race - Gillum finished with 34.3 percent of the vote to 31.3 percent for Graham in unofficial results - every one of the factors had to combine to produce the victory.
Gillum's site claims that under his leadership as Mayor of Tallahassee, the city has turned into the "fastest-growing economy per capita in Florida".
State Rep. Byron Donalds, the only black Republican in the state legislature, said DeSantis' comment was not racist and the debate around it is an "unfortunate distraction". Trump denies there was any collusion. The previous primary record was set in 2002 when 2.6 million Floridians voted.
"We certainly believe that for too long the aspirations and needs of communities of color have been pushed aside as the Democratic Party runs to the center".
No, really. He actually said it.
Gillum ran up big margins in Jacksonville, Miami and other big metro areas.