Ron DeSantis Team Calls Eric Adams' Florida Billboard Campaign 'Desperate'

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' press secretary has called New York City Mayor Eric Adams' billboard campaign in the state "desperate" as the mayor encourages LGBT people to move to the city.

Christina Pushaw told Newsweek in a statement on Tuesday that Florida was a major destination for inward migration in the U.S. and that Florida residents who are opposed to a controversial new education law were welcome to leave the state.

Adams' digital billboard campaign is aimed at Floridians who are unhappy with a new law that critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill. That law, known as the Parental Rights in Education bill or HB 1557, prohibits "classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner."

DeSantis and his team have strongly defended the law as a means of protecting children and vindicating parents' rights, while those opposed to it have said it is harmful to members of the LGBT community.

The New York mayor's campaign is specifically targeting Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach and Adams appeared to criticize HB 1557 in remarks on Monday.

"This political showmanship of attempting to demonize a particular group or community is unacceptable," the mayor said. "And we are going to loudly show our support and say to those who are living in Florida: 'We want you here in New York.'"

Pushaw told Newsweek on Tuesday: "From April 2020 to July 2021, Florida was the number one state for inbound migration with almost 300,000 new residents during that time frame alone. Since then, the influx of new residents from New York and other liberal areas has shown no signs of slowing down.

She noted that the 2020 U.S. Census report said that: "The largest metropolitan net domestic migration losses were in New York-Newark-Jersey City" and that area had lost 385,455 residents.

"This figure does not even include the thousands of New Yorkers who relocated to Florida in 2020," Pushaw said.

She added that "Florida has absolutely no reason to do a counter-campaign encouraging New Yorkers to relocate to Florida."

"They are relocating here in massive numbers anyway, and it's not only because of our warm weather and beautiful beaches," she went on.

"New Yorkers are flocking to Florida because our schools have been open since 2020, we have the right to decide for ourselves whether to wear masks or get COVID shots, our economy is booming, and we're a law-and-order state—so it's safer here than NYC," Pushaw said.

"Since hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have fled the city, it's understandable that NYC's mayor is desperate to lure people back," she added.

"However, I doubt many former New Yorkers will leave Florida because they're so upset about the lack of classroom instruction on gender theory and sexuality for children in grades K-3," Pushaw said, referring to the Parental Rights in Education bill.

"If anyone is so angry about our governor defending parental rights and protecting children that they want to leave our state, Florida will be better off without them. In fact, Mayor Adams should pay for their flights to NYC!" Pushaw said.

She suggested Adams was using city funds for "political grandstanding" rather than "addressing the real problems the city is struggling with."

She added that "the taxpayers of New York may have their own thoughts to share with him" and Adams should focus on fixing "his once-great city, which turned into a crime-ridden dystopia since the lockdowns started in 2020."

"Wasting money on headline-grabbing stunts, forcing toddlers to wear masks, and pushing inappropriate instruction on gender and sexuality to kids in grades K-3, is not going to achieve this," Pushaw concluded.

Adams has said his legal team will challenge a ruling by a Staten Island justice on an end to mask-wearing for children under five.

Newsweek has asked Mayor Eric Adams' office for comment.

Update 04/06/22 09.55a.m. E.T.: This article was updated to include a new photo.

Composite Image Shows Adams and DeSantis
A composite image shows New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Adams' billboard campaign in Florda has been called "desperate" by DeSantis' press secretary Getty Images