Florida’s GOP party will likely have to lick their wounds after Andrew Gillum has begun fighting back against their attack ads. Gillum had reportedly issued a cease-and-desist letter to TV stations to stop airing messages from Rob DeSantis, his Republican opponent for the state’s governor race, after suspending his campaign amid Hurricane Michael.
Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, had turned his attention to the tropical storm, which made landfall on Wednesday. However, he found himself on the receiving end of ads that criticized him for his handling of 2016’s Hurricane Hermine, which caused power outages in Tallahassee. The state’s GOP party had begun running the ads as Michael hit the ground, with DeSantis’ campaign being primarily responsible for the ads, Think Progress reported.
It’s unusual for political candidates to continue campaigning during natural disasters, however, it’s not impossible. There have also been ads supporting DeSantis that continued to play on Wednesday, reaching residents within the hurricane’s ground zero.
Gillum has called out the decision to air the ads at such a sensitive time and in the middle of a potentially life-threatening storm.
“We can’t recall a time where candidates for statewide office have not pulled down negative ads during hurricane season,” the gubernatorial candidate said to MSNBC. “You’ve got a whole region of our state, where folks are fleeing for their lives, anticipating what is a life-threatening event impacting this state. I again would encourage my opponent to just subside with the politics.”
Florida’s Republican Party decided to walk back the ads, they said on Wednesday, according to Politico. The decision, however, came after former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator and Florida Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate asked the state’s candidates to stop running negative ads. Many in the nation have agreed that the focus should be on residents during Hurricane Michael, not on campaign ads.