A number of Florida Democrats renounced support for a candidate seeking statewide office after anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion social media posts surfaced.
Agriculture Commissioner candidate Naomi Esther Blemur distanced herself from the posts, but not before supporters including Florida’s only out state Senator bailed on her campaign. She’s in the running for the Democratic nomination in a three-way primary.
“As a strong voice for reproductive freedom and LGBTQ+ rights, I found Naomi Esther Blemur’s past comments unsettling as they’ve come to light,” tweeted state Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat. “These comments run counter to my record of protecting and advancing the rights of Floridians, and I’ve retracted said support from her campaign.”
Jones and others publicly renounced Blemur after campaigns for her Democratic Primary opponents shared historic social media posts indicating hostile views on abortion and LGBTQ rights.
Blemur on Sunday released a statement dismissing attacks on her campaign.
“As a woman, a woman of color, a daughter of immigrants and Haitian-Americans, I’ve always had to over explain and prove myself beyond the average standard,” she said. “This campaign has only magnified this. I have been smeared with fake emails, websites, social media accounts, and slandering tweets. Through it all, I have maintained and practiced, ‘when they go low, we go high.’ Nevertheless, the attacks have continued on every side. Most recently, one of my opponents accused me of being against a woman’s right to choose, consequently I am writing to communicate my values to you the voters.
“As a wife, a mother, a community advocate, and a minister, who serves as an elected Committeewoman for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, I have always been a vocal supporter of everything woman. I am pro-choice, and have always been. I am an LGBTQIA+ ally, and I will remain one. I believe in everyone’s right to choose and make their own decisions and government should not play a part in this. This statement is unequivocal and anyone suggesting otherwise is misrepresenting who I am as a person and how I will represent the voters of Florida.”
She issued the statement after campaign officials for J.R. Gaillot shared a number of screenshots. Gaillot, a former congressional candidate, and cannabis activist Ryan Morales are running against her.
In one, she defended minister Kim Burrell after she drew fire in 2017 for a homophobic church sermon.
“In 2017, we have ‘Gospel Music Awards’ canceling a ‘Gospel Singer’ for ‘Preaching the Gospel’” Blemur tweeted at the time.
The same year she also shared video from an “ex-homosexual.”
As videos came to light, a number of Democratic leaders in the state who previously supported Blemur withdrew endorsements.
“I am retracting my endorsement of Naomi Blemur for Commissioner of Agriculture,” tweeted Florida Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democratic candidate for Congress. “Recently, Facebook posts from Naomi have surfaced which have brought to light some of her past anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ views, contrary to my strong position on these issues. People evolve through knowledge and humility but excuses are a poor substitute. I will be staying neutral in that primary moving forward.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also pulled back support, according to Florida Politics.
“Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is a staunch supporter of reproductive rights and a fierce ally of the LGBTQ community, and comments made on social media by Ms. Blemur are not aligned with the Mayor’s longtime values and core beliefs,” said Levine Cava spokesperson Christian Ulvert, who is gay. “Since no correction of statements or direct address of those statements have been made by the Blemur campaign, I am advising you to please cease use of Mayor Levine Cava’s endorsement.”