Two Florida Black Republicans are condemning a "racist" ad targeting state Senate candidate Corey Simon.
Simon, a former Florida State University football star who played in the NFL, is running against Democratic state Sen. Loranne Ausley in Northwest Florida's Senate District 3.
Democrat campaign officials recently sent out a campaign mailer that focuses on gun control by depicting Simon on a shooting target.
According to the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University, Black faces or live Black targets were popular in carnival games during the late 19th century, Florida Politics reported.
"The divisive, ignorant use of a Black man for target practice has no place in civil political discourse," state Rep. Webster Barnaby and state House candidate Berny Jacques, both Republicans, said in a joint statement Thursday.
"We hope that members of the Florida Black Caucus will join us in condemning this mailer, and those who approved its creation and distribution. We may not see eye-to-eye on everything, but surely we can agree that political disagreement should never include dangerous imagery of a Black man being used for target practice."
One side of the mailer contains cutouts of children backed by targets with bullet holes, Florida Politics reported.
"Don't let extremists like Corey Simon turn our schools into shooting ranges," the ad reads.
The ad's flip side shows a picture of Simon displayed on a target stand.
Barnaby and Jacques accused Black Democrats of "partisan hypocrisy."
"The dangerous, racist implications of this kind of imagery are unconscionable," Barnaby and Jacques said. "To think that Florida Democrats [state Senate Minority Leader] Lauren Book, Loranne Ausley, [state Sen.] Janet Cruz, [state Senate candidate] Janelle Perez and God only knows how many consultants, staff, and lawyers participated in and approved this hateful garbage underscores the partisan hypocrisy behind these Florida Democrats' Black Lives Matter rhetoric."
Simon's campaign, local Republicans, the Senate president-designate and a Tallahassee-area pastor previously denounced the ad.
"As a Black man, I'm offended by that ad," Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor of the historic Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, told Florida Politics.
He added that the ad was "inherently racist."
The ad, paid for by the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (FDLCC), includes a disclaimer mentioning support for Ausley, Cruz, and Perez.
Ausley, who is white and considered perhaps the most vulnerable Senate Democrat seeking reelection, was asked about the mailer during a debate with Simon on Monday.
"I have no control over what they send out," Ausley said, Florida Politics reported. "I do not prefer these campaign tactics, I don't think either of us do, but neither of us can control them."
The FDLCC, though, told Florida Politics it has written approvals from Ausley and the two other Democrats named in the ad.
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