Florida gubernatorial race: Democrat Charlie Crist nominates teachers’ union chief as running mate against DeSantis

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Crist announced Hernández-Mats as his candidate for lieutenant governor at a Hialeah college on Saturday, capping a week that saw him win the party nomination to take on DeSantis in November.

Born to Honduran immigrants, Hernández-Mats worked for 10 years as a teacher in South Florida and was named Teacher of the Year in 2010. She has served as president of United Teachers of Dade since 2016. She is also vice- president of the American Federation of Teachers, which donated $500,000 to Crist’s campaign earlier this month.

“She wasn’t just a teacher, she was a teacher of special needs kids. She’s a heart,” said Crist, who won the governorship as a Republican in 2006 and served as the losing Democratic candidate for governor in 2014. “He’s a heart, caring, loving, empathetic, compassionate – that’s what we don’t have in the governor’s office right now.”
Democrats have bristled at how DeSantis has reshaped public schools in Florida — pushing for a massive expansion of vouchers for students to attend private schools; restricting some classroom instruction on sexual orientation, gender identity and race; and giving parents the ability to challenge school materials and take legal action against teachers who they believe are not following state guidelines.

“Are you tired of culture wars and extremists dictating what we can say and do?” Hernández-Mats said moments after Crist announced her as his running mate. “Are you sick of politicians acting like authoritarians trying to tear our democracy apart? That’s why we’re here today: to defeat Ron DeSantis and bring decency and respect back to the state of Florida.”

Florida students return to schools remodeled by Governor DeSantis & # 39;  anti-'wake-up' education program
It’s a fight DeSantis is looking forward to. The governor touted his administration’s battle to reopen schools faster than most states and to block mask and vaccination requirements, despite opposition from teachers’ unions. It often boasts of having eliminated high-stakes end-of-year tests for students in favor of more regular monitoring of student progress. DeSantis also accused teachers of indoctrinating students with “woke ideology.” This election cycle, DeSantis has waded through nonpartisan school board races, endorsing about 30 candidates who have pledged to support his local education agenda. Most of them won Tuesday’s elections.

As news of Crist’s choice began leaking Friday afternoon, DeSantis’ campaign slammed Hernández-Mats on Twitter as an “anti-parents’ rights extremist.”

“If it were up to Charlie and Karla, the kids would have been kicked out of school for 18 months,” the campaign said. said on Twitter. “And parents would be put on an FBI watch list for raising concerns about indoctrination at school board meetings.”

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