A white supremacist group robocalled in Florida to hurt black Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum

Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum with his wife, RJ, won the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.

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Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum with his wife, RJ, won the Democratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • A white supremacist group is flooding Florida Democratic voters with racist robocalls mocking Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, the state’s first-ever black gubernatorial nominee.
  • The recording is read by a person speaking in a minstrel-style voice as jungle noises play in the background.
  • This comes just a day after Florida’s Republican nominee for governor, Rep. Ron DeSantis, called Gillum an “articulate spokesman” and warned that he would “monkey up” the state’s economy.

A white supremacist group is flooding Florida Democratic voters with racist robocalls mocking Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, who became the state’s first-ever black gubernatorial nominee on Tuesday.

The recording, which is automatically triggered when a recipient answers the call, is read by a person speaking in a minstrel-style voice as jungle noises play in the background, The Tallahassee Democrat first reported Friday. The calls conclude by saying that they are funded by The Road to Power, an Idaho-based neo-Nazi group reportedly behind other racist robocalls in Charlottesville, Virginia, Oregon and California.

Gillum’s communications director, Geoff Burgan, denounced the calls, telling the Democrat, “This is reprehensible – and could only have come from someone with intentions to fuel hatred and seek publicity. Please don’t give it undeserved attention.”

The news outlet did not publish the recording because of its derogatory content. Burgan told Politico that the campaign believes “it is important for people to know about” the calls.

The volume of political robocalls has shot up in recent years – increasing by nearly 900 million calls per month over the last year. The largely anonymous calls are notoriously difficult to regulate, and simultaneously easy and cheap to produce.

This comes just a day after Florida’s Republican nominee for governor, Rep. Ron DeSantis, called Gillum an “articulate spokesman” for the Democratic Party and warned that the state would “monkey up” its economy by putting a “socialist” in office – comments that many interpreted as racist.

DeSantis’ campaign spokesman, Steven Lawson, insisted that the congressman’s comments were not racially charged, and DeSantis did not apologize for them.

But Lawson condemned the robocalls on Friday.

“This is absolutely appalling and disgusting – and hopefully whoever is behind this has to answer for this despicable action,” Lawson told Politico. “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.”