Country music star Luke Bryan stood up on social media for his decision to bring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis onstage during a recent tour stop in Jacksonville, saying it was done to help victims of Hurricane Ian.
The singer put out a statement Sunday in which he addressed the online backlash he got from liberals for allowing Mr. DeSantis to make an appearance in order to raise money for the Florida Disaster Fund.
He also defended it as old-school manners.
“I understand Governor DeSantis is a very polarizing figure. But I grew up in a country where if a governor ask[s] you if they can come and raise awareness to help victims of a natural disaster you help,” Mr. Bryan’s statement said.
Mr. Bryan goes on to say he’s steered clear of politics in his career and that he expected some people to be upset that Mr. DeSantis was at the concert. But “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,” he said.
A video taken at the concert showed the country music singer saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re gonna have some fun tonight and we’re gonna raise some money for the great state of Florida,” before Mr. DeSantis came out from behind the stage.
The Republican governor can be seen throwing hats into a cheering audience. He later tweeted out photos of him and Mr. Bryan embracing each other on stage.
There are multiple videos of Mr. DeSantis sharing the stage with the singer, but none show him making any political or partisan remarks.
Some of the reactions to the Republican governor’s appearance, as reported by USA Today, included Twitter users saying, “Another country artist I now cross off my list,” or “Hey @lukebryan most people are good but #RonDeSantis is not one of them. I’m incredibly disappointed in you and will no longer support your music or @AmericanIdol as long as you’re on it.”
Mr. Bryan had announced during the same show that he would donate a large portion of his proceeds from his tour stop in Estero, Florida, to the Florida Disaster Fund, he said in a separate video recorded by a Twitter user.
Due to Hurricane Ian, the singer pushed back three of his performance dates to this past weekend.