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REPREHENSIBLE: Despite Hurricane Ian’s devastation, Ron DeSantis refuses to cancel rally with racist influencer

REPREHENSIBLE: Despite Hurricane Ian’s devastation, Ron DeSantis refuses to cancel rally with racist influencer

REPREHENSIBLE: Despite Hurricane Ian's devastation, Ron DeSantis refuses to cancel rally with racist influencer

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PLEASE NOTE: UPDATE AVAILABLE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE. In the wake of devastating Hurricane Ian, Ron DeSantis refuses to cancel a campaign rally with a known racist.

Aside from mismanagement of our resources and tax dollars, DeSantis has not dialed down his reelection campaign activities.

On the very night that southwest and central Florida was suffering under Hurricane Ian, he went on Tucker Carlson’s right-wing show for one of his usual softball interviews.

What’s more egregious is that DeSantis’ campaign hasn’t canceled a planned campaign rally in Miami with Alex Otaola, a far-right Cuban-American influencer who has caused controversy for performing in blackface.

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A normal governor would never campaign with a racist far-right lunatic like Otaola. A normal governor would cancel a campaign rally as the state they preside over reels with billions of dollars worth of property damage and a still unknown death toll.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a normal governor, we have Ron DeSantis, an individual who only cares about himself and is singularly focused on himself and his political career.

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Florida has just been struck by a powerful hurricane that devastated our state. From the southwestern region to Orlando, high-velocity winds and flooding from Hurricane Ian have caused billions of dollars worth of damage as people lose their homes and their communities are devastated.  

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The images are tough to take in. 

They are the result of negligence by politicians who, for too long, have neglected to address critical infrastructure needs or even outright denied climate change. Who can forget when then-Governor Rick Scott banned Florida agencies from using the words climate change? The same guy who now is a U.S. Senator voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill that would help mitigate destruction from extreme weather events and chronic flooding.

Unfortunately for us Floridians, things have only gotten worse in terms of having competent and sane representative leadership in Tallahassee. Scott’s replacement in Governor Ron DeSantis is a callous figure who lacks so much empathy that the day after he was sworn into office as a Congressman in 2013, he voted against a relief package for the New York and New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy. Today he sings a different tune as he asks President Biden for a 100 percent federal cost share for the first 60 days of recovery efforts.

I hope Florida gets all the relief money it needs, but DeSantis’ hypocrisy must be called out.

It also needs to be pointed out that while his administration touted raising $1.6 million in disaster relief—about the same the state spent contracting a vendor to fly migrants under false pretenses—including costs for their idiotic stunt in Martha’s Vineyard.

Those are our tax dollars that could be better spent providing relief to Floridians and the DeSantis administration still plans to use up to $12 million of those funds in this gross political theater.

Reprehensible is putting it mildly.


Hours after publication of this story, the Ron DeSantis campaign sent an email announcing that this event has been postponed until further notice.

Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member from Florida. Twitter: @tomaskenn

This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.

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Thomas Kennedy
is a former reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a fomer Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.

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