The stage is set for the much-awaited showdown between House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum over the issue of sanctuary cities.
Both men are scheduled to meet Tuesday evening at a Tallahassee television studio at 8 p.m. to debate the issue.
The issue of sanctuary cities has been a priority of Corcoran this legislative session. He led a move to pass legislation in the first week that lawmakers were in Tallahassee that would ban sanctuary cities in Florida.
The measure would require state or local governments or law enforcement agencies to comply with federal immigration laws. Those that declare themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants would face stiff fines of up to $5,000 for each day they are determined to be out of compliance. But an effort to pass a ban in the Senate appears to be dead this session.
The two politicians, who both have their sights set on the Governor’s Office — Gillum has announced he’s seeking the Democratic nomination, while Corcoran is expected to jump into the race for the GOP nomination after this year’s legislative session — began a sparring match on Twitter two weeks ago following the release of a video by Corcoran’s political committee, Watchdog PAC.
Today, Watchdog PAC launched a new ad in support of our effort to ban sanctuary cities. The truth is that they are not sanctuaries, they are just hideouts for criminal illegals. Please, join our effort by signing this petition: https://t.co/DRA1oWjMyL #Flapol #Sayfie pic.twitter.com/eRfcMogH8A
— Richard Corcoran (@richardcorcoran) January 29, 2018
The 30-second spot shows a darker-skinned man in a hoodie apparently stalking a young woman walking through a neighborhood. The man pulls out a gun and shoots her.
“This could have happened to any family, anywhere,” Corcoran says in the ad. “Incredibly, some Tallahassee politicians want to make Florida a sanctuary state.”
Those “Tallahassee politicians” Corcoran refers to are, specifically, Gillum.
The ad has been described by Gillum and others as ’vile,’ ‘despicable’ and ‘race-baiting.’
“Today, Watchdog PAC launched a new ad in support of our effort to ban sanctuary cities,” Corcoran tweeted the day the video was released. “The truth is that they are not sanctuaries, they are just hideouts for criminal illegals.”
The video focuses on the shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco who was killed after being struck by a ricochet bullet fired by a Mexican man living in San Francisco who had been slated for deportation. A jury determined the shooting was accidental and acquitted the man on charges related to Steinle’s death. The man was later sentenced to time served on gun-related charges.
“This race-baiting ad is everything that’s wrong with politics today,” Gillum tweeted following the release of the spot. “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.”
That was followed by a tweet from Corcoran.
“If it weren’t for the criminal safe havens that Andrew Gillum wants to bring to Florida, Kate Steinle would still be alive today,” Corcoran said. “And if Gillum disagrees, I’ll happily debate him anywhere, anytime.”
And the debate was on.
Following the law is unconstitutional? @AndrewGillum's liberal logic is absurd, and I'll expose it tomorrow at 8PM when I debate him on Facebook Live. #BanSanctuaryCities #Flapol #sayfie pic.twitter.com/AvTvah8dug
— Richard Corcoran (@richardcorcoran) February 12, 2018
I’m standing up for every Floridian, no matter where they come from or what they look like. My opponent in tonight's debate will keep dividing Floridians against each other — but I'm determined to take him on & fight for you >> https://t.co/4QWcJJNnEf pic.twitter.com/wsEzmXwyqY
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) February 13, 2018
Both men have to view Tuesday night’s political match-up as an opportunity to provide some political traction for their future political aspirations. Recent polls have shown both Corcoran and Gillum in third place in their respective parties’ primary contests. The debate will help each man to play to their political base–Corcoran is a staunch conservative and Gillum is an unabashed progressive.
The 45-minute debate will be streamed live from the Florida Internet and Television studios. It will not be open to the public, but it will be available on each politician’s Facebook page: