With each passing day, House Speaker Richard Corcoran is appearing more and more like a gubernatorial candidate, launching explosive ads railing against sanctuary cities, ramping up his social media presence and now agreeing to a debate over sanctuary cities with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.
Corcoran has called sanctuary cities a “direct assault on the rule of law,” adding that anyone who promises to uphold the law and backs sanctuary city policies should be “removed from office.”
Gillum has trashed Corcoran’s stance on the matter, calling a recently-released ad from Corcoran opposing sanctuary cities as “race baiting” and “everything that’s wrong with politics today.”
“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,” Gillum said on the clip.
In response, Corcoran challenged Gillum to a verbal duel on Tuesday.
“If it weren’t for the criminal safe havens that @AndrewGillum wants to bring to Florida, Kate Steinle would still be alive today,” Corcoran said, alluding to the case of a California woman gunned down by an undocumented immigrant in 2015. “And if Gillum disagrees, I’ll happily debate him anywhere, anytime.”
Gillum accepted the offer Wednesday morning.
“Mr. Speaker, I accept your offer. @TroyKinsey can pick the moderator. How about next Tuesday in Tallahassee?” Gillum said.
Corcoran agreed and said the debate “will happen,” though a time, place and moderator have not yet been announced.
Corcoran and Tallahassee Mayor Gillum have been embroiled in a bitter -- and very public -- feud over the last month, particularly over the issue of sanctuary cities.
The two have brawled over social media over the policy, which shields undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Corcoran opposes sanctuary cities, saying they allow dangerous individuals to enter and stay in the country. He has also been vocal in his support for a House bill banning sanctuary cities in Florida, sponsored by Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yahala.
Corcoran seemed to point at least part of his ad at Gillum, who has been criticized by other Republican gubernatorial candidates like Adam Putnam of wanting to make Florida a “sanctuary state.”
Gillum has never specifically said he wants to make Florida a sanctuary state, though he does support the idea of sanctuary cities.
Corcoran has not yet declared his candidacy for governor but would join all other Republican candidates in opposing sanctuary cities.