Last night, Republican Ron DeSantis won the Florida gubernatorial primary. Though endorsed by President Donald Trump, the three-term congressman wasn’t the choice of many of the party’s strategists and officials, who worried he might be too extreme for one of the most infamous swing states in the country.
It didn’t take long for DeSantis to possibly prove those doubters right.
During an appearance on Fox News Wednesday, DeSantis urged Florida voters not “to monkey this up” by voting for his “articulate” general election opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
“He is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views, and he’s a charismatic candidate,” DeSantis said. “I watched those Democrat debates, and none of that is my cup of tea, but, I mean, he performed better than the other people there, so we’ve got to work hard to make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction. Let’s build off the success we’ve had on Governor Scott.
“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”
Gillum—who surged to an upset victory Tuesday with a liberal campaign that energized the Florida Democratic Party—would be the state’s first African American governor if he defeats DeSantis in November.
“It’s disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles,” the head of the Florida Democratic Party said on Twitter.
Speaking to the Sun-Sentinel, Rep. Fredicra Wilson (D-Fla.) summed up the reaction of many: “They always find a way to add some sort of insult to African Americans and make it racist. Monkeying this up is clearly communicating that. Someone else might see it a different way. As an African American woman, that’s the way I see it.”
A DeSantis spokesperson told NBC News that the “monkey” remark “had nothing to do with race or anything like that.”
Watch and decide for yourself: