Demo­crat gu­ber­na­to­rial hope­ful de­bates po­ten­tial GOP op­po­nent

Tal­la­has­see mayor, state House speaker spar on im­mi­gra­tion.

The Palm Beach Post - - LOCAL & BUSINESS - By Dara Kam

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE — In a pro­duc­tion filled with po­lit­i­cal theater, a Demo­cratic can­di­date for gover­nor and a leg­isla­tive leader who’s toy­ing with a run for the same of­fice took the stage Tues­day night in a de­bate over im­mi­gra­tion and “sanc­tu­ary ci­ties.”

Tal­la­has­see Mayor An­drew Gil­lum and House Speaker Richard Cor­co­ran, a Repub­li­can who hasn’t an­nounced whether he’s in the gu­ber­na­to­rial race, came out slug­ging dur­ing the 45-minute de­bate, aired live on both men’s Face­book pages.

Gil­lum, who is black, ac­cused Cor­co­ran of race-bait­ing and try­ing to turn Flor­ida into a “showme-your-papers” po­lice state, while Cor­co­ran de­fended his anti-sanc­tu­ary po­si­tion by say­ing it is in­tended to keep dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals from roam­ing the streets and prey­ing on in­no­cent vic­tims.

The much-hyped af­fair came af­ter Cor­co­ran’s po­lit­i­cal com­mit­tee, Watch­dog PAC, re­leased an in­flam­ma­tory, cam­paign-style video ad tar­get­ing “sanc­tu­ary ci­ties,” play­ing up the Land O’ Lakes Repub­li­can’s con­ser­va­tive cre­den­tials as he pon­ders whether to wade into a pri­mary con­test against Fox News fa­vorite U.S. Rep. Ron DeSan­tis and Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Adam Put­nam.

It also came af­ter Cor­co­ran rushed a bill through the House last month to ban sanc­tu­ary ci­ties.

Cor­co­ran re­peat­edly de­fended the bill and his video Tues­day evening, say­ing the House mea­sure merely re­quires lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cials to hold “il­le­gal im­mi­grants” for 48 hours af­ter no­ti­fy­ing fed­eral of­fi­cials.

“Is it OK for an il­le­gal im­mi­grant who’s en­gaged in crim­i­nal be­hav­ior to be al­lowed out to roam free?” Cor­co­ran asked. “That’s just crazy lib­eral logic. No­body be­lieves that.”

But Gil­lum said lo­cal law en­force­ment of­fi­cials are di­vided on the is­sue, and many be­lieve the anti-sanc­tu­ary pol­icy could be a bar­rier to wit­nesses or vic­tims co­op­er­at­ing with crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“If you com­mit a crime in our com­mu­ni­ties, you ought to be held ac­count­able to the ex­tent of the law,” he said. “What the speaker is ar­gu­ing is not ju­di­cial find­ings. ... What it does is ba­si­cally turn us into a po­lice state.”

The 30-sec­ond video by Cor­co­ran’s com­mit­tee is ti­tled “Pre­ventable” and opens by al­lud­ing to the high-pro­file 2015 killing of Kathryn Steinle along Pier 14 in the Em­bar­cadero district of San Fran­cisco. The video de­picts a bearded man in a hoodie point­ing and fir­ing a hand­gun di­rectly at a woman walk­ing the side­walk of a sub­ur­ban com­mu­nity.

A voice-over by Cor­co­ran states: “A young woman, gunned down by an il­le­gal im­mi­grant who should’ve been de­ported but was pro­tected by a sanc­tu­ary city.”

The video then fades to Cor­co­ran, who says that when he heard of Steinle’s death, “I thought about my own daugh­ter Kate.”

“In­cred­i­bly, some Tal­la­has­see politi­cians want to make Flor­ida a sanc­tu­ary state,” Cor­co­ran, shown with his arm draped around Kate’s shoul­ders, says. “On my watch, Flor­ida will never be a sanc­tu­ary state.”

Gil­lum on Tues­day took of­fense at the de­pic­tion of the killer in Cor­co­ran’s video, high­light­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the dark-skinned, hoodie-wear­ing vil­lain.

A jury found Jose Ines Gar­cia Zanate not guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der charges in Steinle’s death. Gar­cia Zanate said he found the gun on the pier and that it ac­ci­den­tally went off. Au­thor­i­ties con­firmed the bul­let ric­o­cheted off the ground be­fore strik­ing Steinle.

“The truth is, this ad is a gross mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what took place,” Gil­lum said.

The use of the gray hoodie was par­tic­u­larly of­fen­sive, Gil­lum said, “as if that point would be lost on any of us in the same state where Trayvon Martin was killed, for wear­ing a hoodie.”

Af­ter the de­bate, Cor­co­ran told re­porters his teenage son’s garb was the in­spi­ra­tion for the hoodie.



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