The Washington Post reported Sunday that Florida’s GOP candidate for governor, Ron DeSantis, spoke four different times at a conference organized by an extreme right-wing activist and attended by controversial conservative figures.
The Post article said that DeSantis attended conferences at the David Horowitz Freedom Center in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. He has been in Congress six years and has often promoted right-wing causes. He is known to be a huge supporter of Donald Trump’s policies and receives financial support from the Koch Brothers Network.
Horowitz is an extremely controversial and outspoken figure who has always promoted a point of view that is considered racially divisive. He has often been quoted saying that in the United States, the “only serious race war” is against whites. He is also has been called an Islamaphobe, and has espoused anti-Islam views for many years.
Due to his wildly extremist views Horowitz has been thrown off Twitter and had his ability to receive donations blocked by Visa and Mastercard.
Other extreme right-wing speakers at the Horowitz conferences have included former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, all of whom are famous for their white-supremacist points of view.
This latest revelation about DeSantis assures that the topic of race will continue to be an issue in the upcoming Florida gubernatorial contest between DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is black.
Last month DeSantis provoked outrage when he urged Florida voters to vote against Gillum, using a racially charged phrase. He said voters should not “monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
The comment was immediately criticized as being racially insensitive and provocative, and even Fox News told DeSantis he should apologize. But the current congressman from Florida’s sixth congressional district downplayed the criticism, saying his comments had “zero to do with race.”
Then, a few days after that, Gillum was the target of a racist robocall from an out-of-state white supremacist group. DeSantis again denied that he had anything to do with it, although it is clear that the GOP strategy is to divide the deep-south state along racial lines.
Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., said in response to the robocalls:
“We can have a challenge between ideas and around what we think the people of the state of Florida deserve. What I don’t want this race to turn into is a race of name-calling. I want to make sure that we don’t racialize, and frankly, weaponize race as part of this process.”
Recent polls in Florida have shown Gillum with a slight lead over DeSantis with just two months until election day.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.