The race for Florida's governor is turning out to be one of the most significant political events of this election year.
It's a battle between two charismatic and dynamic politicians: the present Republican Governor Ron DeSantis; and former Florida Republican education commissioner, attorney general, governor — turned Democrat — former St. Petersburg Congressman Charlie Crist.
Crist is adored by the state's media establishment — especially now that he's a Democrat — while the same establishment disdains DeSantis because of his conservative philosophy and anti-woke policy approach to government.
The fact that former president Donald Trump endorsed his candidacy in 2018 doesn’t help.
Florida voters will determine who will control children’s education in their state — teachers unions or parents.
DeSantis believes that parents should rule while Crist yields to unions.
It's also an election that clearly shows the significance of Hispanics in Florida politics.
DeSantis’ lieutenant governor is the highly admired and respected Jeanette Marie Nuñez.
She's a Cuban-American from Miami who held the number two leadership position in the Florida House of Representatives — speaker pro tempore — and has done an excellent job.
Believing that Blacks in Florida are in the Democrats’ hip pocket and knowing that Hispanics are not, Crist selected Karla Hernández-Mats, a first-generation daughter of Honduran immigrants, as his running mate.
She is a former Florida teacher of the year and happens to be the president of the United Teachers of Dade, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers Union.
It should be no surprise that she opposes school choice and supports school closures and forced masking of students.
The question for Florida voters will be what is best for their children: DeSantis’ student-first, parental rights "Education Agenda” or a Crist teachers union takeover of their children’s education.
The DeSantis initiative includes keeping schools open and rejecting lockdowns, educating and not indoctrinating students, ensuring parental rights in education, and eliminating woke general ideology from our schools.
Most of the school board candidates around the state DeSantis campaigned for won their elections — including two in Hernández-Mats own Miami-Dade school district.
In neighboring Broward County, the state’s most Democratic enclave, DeSantis followed a grand jury's recommendations and suspended four Broward County School Board members — all Democrats — for "incompetence and neglect of duty" and replaced them with four Republicans.
One of those replacements, Torey Alston, who is Black, was elected Chairman at the Board's first organizational meeting.
During public comments, the president of the Broward County Teachers Union (BTU), Anna Fusco, could not resist taking a sarcastic slap at DeSantis, telling the new Republican Board members that she hoped they were "not sitting for the governor."
Notwithstanding the antagonistic and insulting remarks of the BTU president, Alston took the high road and subsequently told this writer: "It’s a big day for Broward and local conservatives. I will make sure that we are strategic, targeted, and effective over the next several months while we have a majority."
Kevin Tynan, one of DeSantis’ appointees, is a former Broward GOP chairman and previously served as an interim appointee to the Board under then-Republican Governor Charlie Crist.
Tynan confided to this column that "We need to make real change in a short period of time."
Given the positive reaction and applause from the diverse audience attending the meeting, Alston, Tynan, their new colleagues — and DeSantis — may have lit a flame of reform that will reverberate in school districts throughout the state.
Let’s hope so!
Voters throughout Florida will decide if they want more of the DeSantis-Nuñez. reform in education or will opt for a Crist-Hernández-Mats union takeover of their schools.
We shall see.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations and training consulting firm in Florida. He is the author of "How Obama Failed Black America and How Trump Is Helping It." Read Clarence V. McKee's Reports — More Here.
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