Sen Rick Scott of Florida announced on Tuesday that he was issuing a “formal travel advisory” for “socialists” visiting the state of Florida.
Mr Scott’s so-called travel advisory comes after the NAACP issued its own travel advisory warning Black people about the perils of visiting a state that has become a bastion of far right policy in the last several years under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis.
“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP advisory read. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
The NAACP warning comes just more than a month after Equality Florida, one of the state’s leading LGBTQ+ organisations, issued a travel advisory for LGBTQ+ visitors.
Mr Scott, a former governor of Florida whose personal worth is well over $200m, mocked the language used by the NAACP in his press release.
“Florida is openly hostile toward Socialists, Communists, and those that enable them,” Mr Scott said. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by Socialists and others who work in the Biden Administration.
Mr Scott also claimed that he was issuing the press release in response to “Biden Administration attempts to erase capitalism,” though he offered no evidence to substantiate his claim.
Mr Scott has long been considered one of the most ambitious members of the Republican Senate caucus. Last year, he led the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NSRC) as the Republicans failed to retake the chamber, then challenged Sen Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for the position of minority leader. He was soundly defeated.
The travel advisories issued by the NAACP, Equality Florida, and the Florida Immigrant Coalition highlight the extent to which those and other civil rights groups are alarmed by Florida’s political trajectory. In the last year-plus, the state has banned gender affirming care for minors, limited or banned discussions of race, gender, and sexuality in public schools, banned abortion after six weeks, and more.
Mr DeSantis, the governor driving much of that legislation, is expected to announce that he’s running for president on Wednesday in a conversation with Twitter’s Elon Musk. Mr Scott, who at one point was considering a presidential campaign of his own, will instead run for re-election to the Senate.