Only hours after their primary election victories, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis made clear the high-profile race in the nation's largest political battleground state was going to be nasty and racially charged.
Gillum's campaign referred Reuters to Rizzo's remarks, and several other members of Florida's congressional delegation also condemned the comment.
The remark provides a controversial beginning to what will be a closely watched general election for the Florida governorship, which pits DeSantis, who has closely aligned himself with President Donald Trump, against Gillum, a progressive backed by Sen. Trump's endorsement helped DeSantis beat Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican primary.
Stephen Lawson, communications director for the DeSantis campaign, said it was "absurd" to call DeSantis' comments racist.
Gillum would become the state's first black governor if he were to win in November.
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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum during his primary victory speech.
Trump on Wednesday tweeted out that not only did DeSantis win, but that "his opponent in November is his biggest dream". What's more, DeSantis got about 914,000 votes, while Gillum got nearly 400,000 fewer.
But now that the Floriday A&M grad and father of three has seized the nomination he will face off against vocal Trump supporter Ron DeSantis in November.
Josie Parke, 68, an interior designer in Coral Gables, said Trump's backing swayed her vote for DeSantis, too.
DeSantis, who has represented Florida's 6th district in Congress since being elected in 2012, has frequently defended Trump on Fox News and in an advertisement in July that "teaches" his young children about the president.
Florida is the country's third most populous state after California and Texas and will be a decisive vote in the next presidential election, where the U.S. president won by just one percentage point in 2016.
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He told CNN: "I actually believe that Florida and its rich diversity are going to be looking for a governor who's going to bring us together, not divide us".
Gillum ultimately won by 34.2 percent of the vote, with former Congresswoman Gwen Graham narrowly behind at 31.4 percent of the vote.
Among those on the GOP Senate ballot in the state was former state Sen.
The Republican Congressman is not likely to push for adult-use legalization in Florida's future, but he has stated his support for both medical marijuana legalization and a state's right to set policies free from federal intervention-positions that earned him a "B" on the most recent political scorecard published by NORML.
He won every county with a major city in Florida except for St. Petersburg inPinellas County, including huge margins in Jacksonville and victories in what were considered Levine's home base of Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Scott had an easy win in Tuesday's Republican Party primary, and now he heads into an increasingly bitter - and expensive - showdown with Nelson that could play a decisive role in which party controls the Senate.
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