Ron DeSantis is recommending an Orlando-area GOP official resign for posting a meme on Facebook that claims Andrew Gillum is a socialist and wants African-Americans to be “paid back” for slavery.
DeSantis, the newly minted Republican gubernatorial nominee, said on Tuesday that Orlando County Republican Committee Member Kathy Gibson, who shared the now-deleted meme on Facebook, should leave her post, reports POLITICO Florida.
“Kathy Gibson should resign, and so should anyone else that subscribes to this sort of disgusting thinking,” DeSantis told POLITICO. “This campaign is about issues and creating a better Florida for everyone. That’s what Floridians care about, and that’s what we’ll continue to focus on.”
Gibson did not comment on the post to POLITICO. Instead, she questioned the integrity of the official, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, who highlighted the post, according to the outlet.
Gibson, through the meme, equates Gillum with Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, an avowed Democratic socialist who won an upset primary victory for a Congressional seat in New York earlier this year.
But the meme contrasts Gillum with Ocasio-Cortez by claiming Gillum is a socialist so he can pay back “his people” for “slavery.” Gillum is an African-American candidate running for governor against DeSantis. He has not made those comments, reports POLITICO.
According to a screen grab saved by another Orlando official, the post’s text in full: “Andrew’s got a little different take on socialism than Ocasio Cortez. Andrew Gillum says when he wins governor of Florida … ‘his people’ will be getting ‘paid back’ for slavery.”
Hill, the African-American Orlando official who saved Gibson’s post, wrote on Facebook, “Shameful and Despicable Orange County Republican Council Woman Kathy Gibson!!!!! Orlando doesn’t need nor want this type of politics!!!!!”
According to to Hill’s screenshot, Gibson added her own commentary to the meme: “Just what every Floridian is dreaming of. Going Backward, not forward. If anyone living in Florida at this time was a slave holder, had family that were slave holders or committed acts against African Americans please let Mayor Gillum know so he can bill you & your Family. Where I & our family lived, we were integrated in our schools & have since the 1930s.”
DeSantis quickly denounced the statements made by Gibson. But his campaign and party have been unable to escape criticism over race issues in the first week leading out from the primary election.
To recap: On Fox News, DeSantis used the phrase “monkey this up” while discussing what he believes to be his opponent Gillum’s socialist values. He also said Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, is an “articulate spokesman.” On Friday, it was reported by the Tallahassee Democrat that racist robocalls were flooding the homes of Floridians. The robocalls were denounced by DeSantis and were traced back to a neo-Nazi group in Idaho.
DeSantis last Thursday also removed himself from the Tea Party Facebook group, which routinely shares racially charged posts. DeSantis was a moderator of the page, but has denied willing affiliation.