Lieutenant Governor candidate Chris King joined Democrats statewide in expressing outrage over comments made Saturday by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz during a political event in Cape Coral.

“Our election should and must be about real people facing real issues, and not hyperbolic propaganda used to fearmonger and gin up their base,” King said.

Gaetz on Saturday referred to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as “Andrew Kill’em” during a campaign stop alongside Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

The comments quickly drew rebuke from Democrats around the state.

As for Gaetz, he said Democrats started attacking him because they have no defense for Gillum.

“Democrats can’t defend the horrific crime rate under Andrew Gillum in Tallahassee so they blame others,” he wrote on Twitter. “Sad!”

Terrie Rizzo, Florida Democratic Party chairwoman, labeled Gaetz’s name-calling as a “racist and despicable attack.”

“Ron DeSantis seems intent on exploiting the ugliest and most toxic forces in our society in order to win this election,” Rizzo said.

“If DeSantis’ campaign doesn’t stop speaking so irresponsibly, they could destroy the very fabric of our state and cause irreparable harm. Floridians’ safety is literally at risk. Ron DeSantis must immediately condemn this racist attack on Andrew Gillum and stop weaponizing race.”

Sean Shaw, Democratic Attorney General candidate, also came to Gillum’s defense.

“Congressmen Gaetz should be ashamed of himself,” Shaw said. “Language of that type has no place in our state. This is more of the same inappropriate language that has become all too common from Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.”

“This latest comment proves that Ron DeSantis doesn’t have a plan to move Florida forward,” said Dianne Hart, a Democratic state representative candidate in District 61. “Floridians are tired of DeSantis’ divisive politics and that’s why they’re rallying around Andrew Gillum for Governor — a candidate with a record of putting Florida families first. I look forward to his victory on November 6.”

And state House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz said Gaetz’s comments completely crossed the line.

“The remarks made today by Representative Matt Gaetz are an abomination and have no place in our politics,” Cruz said. “Ron DeSantis should immediately condemn this attack on Andrew Gillum and stop the slash-and-burn tactics that have defined his campaign.”

King, whom Gillum tapped as his running mate shortly after beating him in the Democratic primary, said his ticket would not tolerate the rhetoric.

“”We condemn the divisive and dangerous rhetoric used at the Ron DeSantis rally by his chief congressional ally,” King said. “We call on Mr. DeSantis to immediately condemn these statements riddled with bigotry and inaccuracies. Furthermore, he must demand his campaign and supporters to tone it down for everyone’s safety.”

About The Author

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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