Florida Democrats kick off election race in Orlando

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Also attending the rally in their first joint appearance since Gillum's surprise victory on Tuesday were three of Gillum's opponents for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination - former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine and businessman Chris King - as well as the Democratic nominees for attorney general, agricultural commissioner and chief financial officer.

"Andrew Gillum is the equality champion who can energize voters and win the Governor's Mansion", Pollitzer concluded.

Reverend Dr. R.B. Holmes, Junior, said while the Congressman did not call Mayor Gillum a "monkey", the term has been used historically in a "very derogatory context".

DeSantis and Gillum will face off in the race for Governor during the November general elections. DeSantis' campaign denied the comments had anything to do with race. Edan Schultz, a reporter at WCTV, the CBS affiliate for north Florida and southern Georgia, also confirmed to the Times/Herald that the station had received the call on its landline. In it, a man pretending to be Gillum, speaking in a minstrel dialect, asks for voters to support him. The speaker specifically mentions DeSantis' "monkey" comment.

"I believe that they are clear on what their target is, and that should come to a conclusion soon", Gillum said Friday. "Please don't give it undeserved attention".

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DeSantis, who warned voters that Gillum would "monkey up" the economy because of his "socialist" leanings, condemned the racist calls via his spokesman. DeSantis made the comments in an interview with Fox News.

"I'm going to campaign all over the state. To characterize it as anything else is absurd", said Stephen Lawson, the communications director for the DeSantis campaign.

A disclaimer at the end of the recording says it was paid for by The Road to Power, a white supremacist and anti-Semitic group based in Idaho that has made other offensive robocalls, including one in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a far-right rally there past year, and another identified Friday in Iowa. A phone number listed on the call is a non-working number with a Tallahassee area code.

Local news reports reveal that The Road to Power has a history of distributing racist robocalls across the country, usually targeting areas right after they were in the headlines for racial controversy or violence.

The Anti-Defamation League calls the Road to Power a "right-wing extremist website" that has been behind several rounds of robocalls in recent months, including two that supported anti-Semitic congressional candidates in California.

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