Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, seemingly took offense to his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis repeatedly referring to him by his first name during a debate Wednesday night.
“I met him for the first time the other night and then all of a sudden, without invitation, he was calling me only as Andrew,” Gillum told students Thursday during a campaign event at the Florida Memorial University’s Miami Gardens campus, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
“Between the two of us, he quit his job in Congress, I’m a sitting mayor, and he had the nerve to address me only as Andrew?” Gillum added. “I wanted to correct him, y’all, but I didn’t want to be petty. So, we just we pushed all the way through.”
DeSantis’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gillum, who would be the state’s first black governor if elected, faced off against DeSantis on stage Wednesday as the former congressman was grilled on his ties to neo-Nazis and white supremacists. In one exchange, Gillum took particular issue with DeSantis participating in speaking engagements at racially charged far-right conferences and accepting campaign contributions from a donor who used a racial epithet in a tweet about former President Barack Obama.
“I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist,” Gillum said in a retort that quickly went viral.
DeSantis, meanwhile, maintained he was unaware of both the nature of the conferences where he spoke and of his donor’s racist remarks. He complained that he was being unfairly cast as a racist person by association.
“How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?” DeSantis shot back. “I am not going to bow down to the altar of political correctness. I’m not going to let the media smear me.”
Gillum has also been the target of two extremely racist robocalls during the campaign. The most recent featured an actor using an exaggerated minstrel dialect, saying: “Well hello there. I is the Negro Andrew Gillum, and I be asking you to make me governor of this here state of Florida.”