Ron DeSantis Tells Floridians Don't 'Monkey This Up' by Electing Andrew Gillum, First Black Nominee for Governor

Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor, warned voters in a Fox News interview not to "monkey this up" by electing Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum. Tuesday night, Gillum made history by becoming the first African-American gubernatorial candidate to secure a nomination in Florida.

DeSantis, currently a representative in Florida, made a pitch to voters on Fox News, saying he would continue the legacy of Florida Governor Rick Scott, who just won a Republican primary in a Senate race in the state. He also went on the offensive against his opponent Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, Florida.

DeSantis said, via videos posted online.

"Florida elections are always competitive. And [Gillum] is a guy who, although he is much too liberal for Florida, I think he's got huge problems with how he's governed Tallahassee. He is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views and he's a charismatic candidate. And I watched those Democrat debates, none of that was 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 of we've had [under] 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 is not going to work. That's not gonna be good for Florida.

Uh Ron DeSantis just said FL shouldn't "monkey this up" by electing Andrew Gillum

— Steve Morris (@stevemorris__) August 29, 2018

Democratic leadership was quick to respond to the comments from DeSantis. "It's disgusting that Ron DeSantis is launching his general election campaign with racist dog whistles," Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said, according to

Representative Ron DeSantis, the Republican from Florida and candidate for Florida governor, speaks during a rally with President Donald Trump in Tampa, Florida, on July 31. In an interview with Fox News, DeSantis warned Floridians not to “monkey this up” by voting for his opponent, Andrew Gillum, the first black nominee for governor in the state’s history. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The race between DeSantis and Gillum has already been billed as a referendum of sorts. DeSantis has been proudly backed and supported by President Donald Trump while Gillum, a progressive, has been endorsed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

DeSantis's campaign responded to the comments made on Fox News.

New statement from DeSantis comms director @StephenLawsonFL: “Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd.” #flgov

— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) August 29, 2018

"Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses," Stephen Lawson, communications director for the DeSantis campaign, said in a statement. "To characterize it as anything else is absurd."

Fox News ran a follw-up segment that included the statement from the DeSantis campign. "A little while ago, we had Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor in Florida on for an interview to discuss the Florida election. During the interview, he made what some are calling an inappropriate comment about his democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum," said Sandra Smith on the show America's Newsroom, before reading the campaign's statement. "We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement. Also, Mayor Gillum will be on with Shepard Smith today at 3 p.m."

This article has been updated to include new statements from the DeSantis campaign and Fox News.