The campaign for Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has fired a staff member after several of his anti-Trump social media posts resurfaced.
Manny Orozco-Ballestas, who served as a statewide youth outreach director for the Gillum campaign, was fired Sunday, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“The type of language this young man used on social media before his employment with our campaign is unacceptable, and he will no longer be working with the campaign,” Gillum campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said in a statement to the newspaper.
The Florida GOP had first pushed for Orozco-Ballestas’s firing after local blogger Jacob Engels unearthed an Instagram photo of Orozco-Ballestas wearing a shirt that included a map of the United States. On it, states that had gone for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election were colored red and labeled “Dumbf---istan.”
Engels later posted to his blog about a half-dozen images of vulgar tweets originating from Orozco-Ballestas’s Twitter account in 2012 and 2013.
“If you weren’t so ugly I would put my d--- in your face,” one purported tweet read. Others are too obscene to be reprinted but included derogatory references to women.
In another tweet from 2013, before Trump announced his candidacy for president, Orozco-Ballestas apparently replied to Trump on Twitter and said “you need to be executed.”
As of Monday afternoon, Orozco-Ballestas’s Twitter account appeared to have been deactivated and his Instagram had been made private.
In a statement to the Miami Herald, the 24-year-old Orozco-Ballestas apologized for sending tweets as an “immature student.”
“I am embarrassed, angry, and disappointed in myself. As a young person, you never imagine it will happen to you, until it does. I took social media for granted when I was younger and I am now facing the consequences,” he wrote. “I’m so sorry to all those I let down, especially Mayor Gillum and my team. What I tweeted as an immature student many years ago is not a reflection of the man I am today.”
On Sunday, Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia released a statement criticizing the Gillum campaign for not firing Orozco-Ballestas sooner.
“The same staffer that called voters ‘dumbf****’ has finally been fired by the Gillum campaign, but only after it was discovered that he also attempted to hide a series of incendiary comments on social media,” Ingoglia wrote. “Apparently, calling millions of Floridians a vile term wasn’t enough to fire him the first time. Is this how a Gillum administration would look? Hiring people with questionable backgrounds? Could you imagine how he would vet Florida Supreme Court Justices???”
Gillum is locked in a contentious Florida gubernatorial race with Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis. An average of polls on RealClearPolitics shows Gillum with a 4.5-point lead.
In August, DeSantis made headlines after he told voters they would “monkey this up” if they elected Gillum as governor. Supporters of Gillum, who is African American, decried the remark as racist; Gillum said his opponent was “taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump.”
DeSantis’s campaign denied that the candidate’s comment was racist.
“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” DeSantis spokesman Stephen Lawson said then. “To characterize it as anything else is absurd.”