ORLANDO, FL (Gray DC) -- A controversy is brewing just hours after Ron DeSantis won big in the Republican primary race for governor. The Florida Congressman said voters would quote ‘monkey this up’ if they elected Democratic opponent and Tallahassee Mayor, Andrew Gillum, who is African American.
DeSantis’ comment immediately hit a nerve and Florida Democrats condemned that remark. The campaign says DeSantis was criticizing Gillum’s policies and arguing they are socialist and would hurt the Florida economy.
“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd. Florida’s economy has been on the move for the last eight years and the last thing we need is a far-left democrat trying to stop our success," said Stephen Lawson, DeSantis' Communications Director.
Before that appearance on Fox News, we sat down with DeSantis to go over the next steps of his campaign.
On the heels of a 20-point primary victory, GOP Congressman Ron DeSantis sets his sights on winning the Governor’s race in November.
“That gives us a lot of momentum now going into the general election," said DeSantis.
The stage is set for a show-down between the conservative Rep and liberal Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Both candidates are just 39 years old, were the underdogs in their respective primary races and saw big-name endorsements elevate their campaigns.
But the two men vying to be Florida’s next governor could not be further apart on major policy issues. DeSantis has the strong support of President Donald Trump, while Gillum earned the backing of Senator Bernie Sanders.
“He wants to make Florida like Venezuela," alleges DeSantis.
DeSantis says he wants to continue building on the economic successes of fellow Florida Republican and current Governor Rick Scott. He says Gillum’s vision - like Medicare-for-all - would raise taxes and turn off businesses.
“He’s really running on a far left agenda. We’ve never had anyone in Florida who’s run on that and succeeded. I don’t think now is going to be any different," said DeSantis.
With the strong support of President Donald Trump, DeSantis also making the case that he could help grease the wheels of the federal government and unlock more resources for the Sunshine State.
“As Governor, I can go to the White House and say hey there’s a lot of projects out there. This is a priority for Florida - let’s accelerate this, I don’t want to wait 10 years. I want to get this done as soon as possible," said DeSantis.
Many Democrats have predicted a blue wave coming to offices across the country. In Florida, DeSantis says the turnout favors the GOP in November. More Republican ballots were cast in the primary.