On Monday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis resigned his seat in Congress to focus on his upcoming election against Democrat Andrew Gillum. That, however, was not the only DeSantis news of the day.

His move coincided with a Washington Post article about DeSantis, after being elected to Congress in 2012, speaking on four occasions between 2013 and 2017 at "racially charged" events, as the headline declared. Those were hosted by conservative writer David Horowitz, whose Freedom Center organizes an annual gathering of conservative activists and politicians called "Restoration Weekend."

Of course, the Post recalled DeSantis' ill-advised remark after the Aug. 28 primary, in which DeSantis said Florida voters shouldn't "monkey this up" in reference to undermining the state's economy by electing Gillum and indulging his socialist-leaning policies. It also pointed out that an Idaho-based neo-Nazi group made racist robocalls about Gillum, which DeSantis denounced, and that a former DeSantis campaign consultant once posted on social media that violent Muslims were "animals" who should be booted from the country.

As we suggested might happen in criticizing DeSantis for that poor choice of language about Gillum's policies two weeks ago, the governor's race is quickly descending into a referendum about race. The Post said as much. "In less than two weeks since the primary," its reporters wrote, "race has become a central issue in the nation’s largest battleground state." Not the economy. Not the environment. Not immigration. Not education. Not health care. But race.

On Monday, the Florida Democratic Party joined in, regurgitating the Post's headline and issuing a statement that slapped DeSantis for associating "with fringe individuals who seek to divide our country," as if there are no Democratic activists among the rhetorical bomb-throwers. The party statement also noted that the Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed the Freedom Center a "hate group" — never mind that if the SPLC were intellectually honest it would classify itself as a hate group. Additionally, the pro-Gillum super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, bankrolled by liberal billionaire George Soros, accused DeSantis of "racist comments and affiliations with hate groups."

It's regrettable, but will remain that way because the national media see the contest between DeSantis, endorsed by President Donald Trump, and Gillum, supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders, as a proxy election for the 2020 presidential campaign. The fact that Gillum could become Florida's first black governor also lends a Barack Obama-like aura to the election. As this drumbeat continues, voters will begin to sense that any criticism of Gillum's leftist agenda will be racist in nature.

Ironically, the Post reported that, "In three of the four speeches reviewed by The Washington Post, DeSantis delivered sharp-edged conservative criticism of Democratic policies without explicitly touching on race." There was no mention of the fourth speech.

Moreover, the Post hinted that Restoration Weekend is a hotbed of near-Klan activity, with the proof being that past speakers have included provocateurs like former Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. The article only briefly touched on the fact that Horowitz invitees have included thoroughly mainstream Republicans. The Post did mention Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and columnist Ben Shapiro. But the article failed to note others who are far from "fringe individuals," like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Sen. Ted Cruz, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, longtime Democratic pollster Pat Caddell, talk-radio host Sonnie Johnson (who is black) and party-flip-flopping consultant Dick Morris, once a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton.

Are they, too, all racists?

The Post apparently derives the "racially charged" nature of the Freedom Center events from speakers who are unsparing in their criticism of violent Islamic militants and the massive influx of immigrants, primarily in Europe, where failure to assimilate is creating a growing cultural rift. That suspicion also would seem to include Horowitz's own "record of inflammatory comments," which the Post reported includes observations that white Americans are responsible for blacks' freedom, referring to almost 400,000 Union soldiers killed in the Civil War, and that Horowitz once tweeted "show me the Islamic leaders who are not okay with the calls to exterminate Jews and Israel."

Yet the Post's racist-promoting narrative seems an ill fit for Horowitz and his longtime cohort and Freedom Center co-founder Peter Collier. They were 1960s radicals who were once prominent apologists for the Black Panthers. Like many once-liberal intellectuals, they drifted to the right after becoming disillusioned by the increasing radicalism on college campuses, the spread of political correctness throughout our culture and the exploits of Islamic terrorists.

Legitimate instances of racial animus, such as those robocalls, should not be ignored. But if the governor's race becomes mostly about race instead of issues, with people like David Horowitz cast as hateful villains because the Post and Florida Democrats don't like what they have to say, all Floridians lose.