Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, is not an announced candidate for governor, but his recent TV ad pledging that he won’t allow Florida to become a “sanctuary state” for illegal immigrants is having a big impact on the race.
Corcoran is expected to enter the race in March. His Watchdog PAC has spent about $1.4 million, Politico’s Matt Dixon reported, to air the ad in markets across the state. The ad depicts a hoodie-wearing man shooting a young woman on a suburban street and evokes the 2015 shooting in San Francisco of Kate Steinle by an immigrant who had been deported five times and was ultimately acquitted of murder.
Corcoran appears in the ad to say that “on my watch, Florida will never be a sanctuary state.”
Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum accused Corcoran of “race-baiting” in a Jan. 29 statement.
“In the age of Trump, Corcoran is vilifying immigrants. It’s a vile ad that seeks to divide us against one another, and the Speaker ought to be ashamed of himself,” Gillum said.
Corcoran, via Twitter, said he’d debate Gillum “anywhere, anytime” and Gillum quickly accepted.
The two will square off Tuesday night in a Tallahassee TV studio.
Democratic governor candidate Philip Levine announced today that he is spending $250,000 for a statewide TV ad decrying the “intolerance” of Corcoran’s ad.
“One Tallahassee politician is broadcasting a message of hate aimed at every man, woman and child who doesn’t look like him,” Levine says.
His ad also features an image of President Donald Trump, as Levine says: “It’s bad enough you hear this from our president, who bullies for a living. What’s worse are those who encourage him.”