Racist robocalls targeting Andrew Gillum, the first black nominee for Florida governor from a major party, have been placed to residents from an out-of-state white supremacist entity.
Mr. Gillum, 39, the Tallahassee mayor and a progressive candidate who won an upset victory in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, will face Representative Ron DeSantis, 39, a Republican who embraced the style and policies of President Trump, in the November election.
In the audio of one robocall placed on Friday and obtained by The New York Times, a man pretending to be Mr. Gillum can be heard talking in the exaggerated accent of a minstrel performer. “Well hello there,” it begins, “I is Andrew Gillum.” He then talks for a little over a minute about mud huts and unfair policing practices, and asks repeatedly for the listener’s vote. In the background are the sounds of drums and monkeys.
The recording, reported on Friday by The Tallahassee Democrat, ends with a man saying that the message was paid for by the Road to Power, an Idaho-based website and podcast with white supremacist and anti-Semitic content.
It is unclear how many people received the robocalls, but Mr. Gillum’s campaign spokesman, Geoff Burgan, said that multiple people had reported them to the campaign. He called the message “reprehensible” and said it “could only have come from someone with intentions to fuel hatred and seek publicity.”
“Please don’t give it undeserved attention,” he added.
A campaign spokesman for Mr. DeSantis, Stephen Lawson, called the robocall “appalling and disgusting.”
“Hopefully, whoever is behind this has to answer for this despicable action,” he said. “Our campaign has and will continue to focus solely on the issues that Floridians care about and uniting our state as we continue to build on our success.”
On Wednesday, Mr. DeSantis was accused of using a racist dog whistle after he said in a television interview that voters should not “monkey this up” by electing Mr. Gillum. Mr. Lawson said that the comment did not have racial undertones and that the Republican candidate was “obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies” of his opponent.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has noted a recent rise in robocalls across the country, calling them a “new, high-tech, computer-delivered brand of hate.”
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1 September 2018