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DeSantis’ School Board Candidates Prevail In Florida Primary


All but five of the varsity board candidates endorsed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won or advanced to runoffs of their primaries Tuesday, furthering the Republican’s crusade against “wokeness” in schools as he looks to construct a base of local allies.

In all, 25 of the 30 candidates backed by DeSantis and his 1776 Project PAC within the traditionally nonpartisan primaries were victorious, in accordance with media reports.

“We are going to never, ever give up to the woke agenda. Florida is the state where woke goes to die,” DeSantis said at an election-night party, using a term the fitting has adopted to deride efforts toward inclusivity.

With Florida Republicans behind him, DeSantis — who didn’t have a primary this week but will face Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist in November — poured 1000’s of dollars into normally sleepy and apolitical races for positions that determine how schools are governed in a few of Florida’s largest counties.

DeSantis even managed to flip some counties’ school boards from left-leaning to conservative, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

The DeSantis-aligned candidates focused on parental rights and transparency, while Democrats cited the challenges of recruiting and retaining educators in an increasingly hostile teaching environment.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wasn’t on the ballot Tuesday, but his school board candidates were.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

“Sarasota County — WE did it!!!” tweeted Bridget Ziegler, a college board member from Sarasota endorsed by DeSantis. Her campaign materials say Ziegler is for eliminating “indoctrination” and banning “critical race theory.” “The Community has spoken & it’s crystal clear,” she wrote. “They’re demanding a reset of the School Board. And that’s what they’ll get.”

The chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Manny Diaz Sr., blasted DeSantis Tuesday for making school board races “latest political battlegrounds.”

The governor’s aggressive crackdown on public schools has focused heavily on restricting how gender, race and history are taught to kids. He faced an onslaught of criticism for his Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by his detractors, which prohibits classroom discussions on gender identity and sexuality.

A companion piece of laws, the Stop WOKE Act, was halted by a judge last week amid challenges to the constitutionality of barring discussion of race in business and academic settings. The law, which takes aim at diversity and inclusion trainings, seeks to ban thorny discussions about race and privilege. A judge characterised it as impermissibly vague and accused the state of “muzzling its opponents.” The state is appealing.

It’s no secret that DeSantis, sitting on a war chest of $132 million, is eyeing a run for president in 2024. As one in every of the GOP’s foremost culture warriors, DeSantis has made “parental rights” a primary focus, a tactic that worked for Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin last yr. Florida, meanwhile, faces a critical teacher shortage. To compensate, the Florida Department of Education launched a program last month allowing military veterans to show with no degree.

Andrea Mercado, the chief director of Florida Rising, a progressive nonprofit, blasted DeSantis as having “learned from Trump how one can exploit extremism into headlines and fundraisers for his own profession.” She encouraged progressives to vote to maintain DeSantis “out of the Oval Office in 2024, and to construct justice on every block with local elections.”

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