Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum criticized his GOP opponent Rep. Ron DeSantis for negative ad campaigns that reportedly aired in areas where residents prepared to brace the impact of Hurricane Michael.
The Tallahassee mayor called the ads “unseemly” in an interview on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC this week.
Both Gillum and Florida Gov. Rick Scott — who is running for a seat in the Senate — left the campaign trail earlier this week to return to Florida’s capital city to prepare the state in their official capacities for the Category 4 hurricane that made landfall on Wednesday.
When asked this week about decisions surrounding pulling campaign ads amid the state’s preparation for the massive storm by MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson, Gillum called the negative ads against him “unfortunate.”
One of the ads, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), was critical of Gillum’s response to Hurricane Hermine, which hit Florida in 2016. A Politifact article published Wednesday charged the ad “distorts the city’s response” to power outages.
“My opponent has decided to leave all of his negative advertising up, all the way across the panhandle, including right here where we are preparing our citizens for a Category 4 hurricane impact,” Gillum told MSNBC in part.
He added that news alerts surrounding the development of the hurricane were being interrupted by “negative campaign ads” that were “untrue.”
Hurricane Michael weakened to a tropical storm on Thursday after devastating Florida’s panhandle, killing at least two people.
HuffPost has reached out to the Ron DeSantis for Governor campaign and the Republican Party of Florida for comment and has not immediately heard back.
On Wednesday, RPOF communications director Meredith Beatrice stated on Twitter that the group had ordered the ads be taken down in affected areas.
“Any statement to the contrary is simply wrong,” she said.
On Tuesday, DeSantis apparently responded to questions surrounding the criticism he’s received for not pulling negative campaign ads in the high-profile gubernatorial race.
“You run your campaign the way [you] run your campaign,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “It is what it is. We’ve had all this planned out long before and we’re going to stick with our plan so people will see that unfold in the next day or two.”
“I can’t remember a time where we didn’t have statewide candidates pull down negative campaigns, particularly in those parts of the state, where people are trying to run for their lives,” Gillum told Matthews in part on MSNBC this week.