Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' unprecedented efforts to endorse school board members for election paid big dividends, with 5 of his 6 favored candidates winning their runoffs Tuesday, results that deliver the Republican governor a total of 24 victories out of 30 local education candidates he backed this year.
Politico reported parental rights have been a key battle cry for DeSantis, believed to be the first Florida governor to endorse school board members. The governor, who easily won reelection Tuesday, spurred the GOP-led Florida Legislature to pass bills such as the "Parental Rights in Education" law, labeled by opponents as "Don't Say Gay."
The legislation bans teachers from leading classroom lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation for children in kindergarten through third grade. Republicans also are pushing for expanding school choice and transparency about what students are learning in school, particularly on race and gender identity.
School board races, which are typically nonpartisan, were partially shaped by advertisements produced by political committees. One of the committees, the 1776 PAC, which opposes critical race theory in schools, endorsed 49 candidates in Florida throughout 21 counties.
Parental rights groups also played a role, such as the conservative Moms for Liberty, which endorsed 12 school board candidates in Florida, donated to campaigns, and was active at school board meetings.
Out of the six candidates endorsed by DeSantis in runoff elections Tuesday, five faced opponents backed by the Florida Democratic Party. Four of those DeSantis candidates won their races.
In three other races, school board candidates endorsed by Democrats faced off against candidates backed by Moms for Liberty. Those supported by Moms for Liberty won each of those contests.
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