It’s tough to say what’s worse about Florida Republican Richard Corcoran’s new campaign ad. Is it the racist portrayal of immigrants as wild, unrepentant killers of white women? Or is it the fact that Corcoran, who is the Speaker of the Florida House and is widely expected to run for governor, is trying to ban sanctuary cities across the state?
The ad, which premiered Monday on YouTube, is ostensibly a reenactment of the 2015 killing of Katie Steinle. (Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant, was charged with her killing, though he was ultimately acquitted.) But with its moody music, dramatic camera angles, and overwrought narration, the ad is a not-so-subtle nod to those who see immigrants as a danger, despite the fact that evidence shows they commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.
“It’s very interesting the actors they put in that ad, the victim is a white woman, the perpetrator is a male with dark hair, a mustache or facial hair so one could argue they’re trying to create this image of the Latino man that’s suspect,” University of South Florida sociology professor Elizabeth Aranda told the Miami Herald. “They’re using that same stereotypical imagery in this ad, placed in a suburb, trying to send a message that everyone’s at risk here when the data doesn’t support it.”
Corcoran defended his new ad on Monday, saying, “What it says is that the No. 1 role of government is to protect its people and its citizens.”
For Corcoran, whose state congressional district is nearly 10% Latinx, that protection means “[Requiring] state & local governmental agencies to comply with & support enforcement of federal immigration law,” according to HB 9, the anti-sanctuary city bill supported in the ad.
Corcoran is expected to toss his hat into the already-crowded ring for Florida’s upcoming gubernatorial election in the coming weeks.