Country singer and “American Idol” judge Luke Bryan responded to backlash he’d gotten for bringing Gov. Ron DeSantis onstage in Florida Friday night, saying that he knew spotlighting the “divisive figure” would upset some fans, but that the charitable cause of the concert was his priority.
According to a video clip posted on Twitter, Bryan told his concertgoers they were going to “raise some money tonight for the great state of Florida,” as the proceeds from his shows were going toward the Florida Disaster Fund, which is raising money for those impacted by Hurricane Ian. The entertainer had postponed a set of Florida tour dates in September due to the hurricane.
Bryan then welcomed Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, to the stage. As he walked up, the politician high-fived Bryan and threw caps out to the crowd. DeSantis even shared a pair of photos of the two on Twitter writing, “Thanks for letting me crash the party last night, @lukebryan!”
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantisFL) October 29, 2022
Naturally, not everyone was happy, as DeSantis has faced waves of criticism for being behind Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. He also sent migrants to Martha’s Vineyard as a political stunt and cracked down on the state’s voting rights.
Bryan released a statement on Sunday defending his decision to have DeSantis onstage with him.
“I typically don’t respond to stuff when I’m getting run down on a social platform but here’s the deal. I understand Governor Desantis is a very polarizing figure,” Bryan wrote. “But I grew up in a country where if a governor ask you if they can come and raise awareness to help victims of a natural disaster you help.”
“I’ve generally stayed out of politics throughout my career,” he continued. “I knew people would chatter about this but for me the more important piece was if I am going to come back there a few weeks after a large portion of people have been affected by a natural disaster in a state where people have been good to me this felt right. Raise awareness, have a little fun between the GA and FL college fans before the game and do what I love on stage.”
He closed the note by writing, “This is all I am saying about this. I’ll be outdoors with my boys. Enjoy your Sunday. Text 20222 to support.”