DeSantis-backed school board candidates ride governor’s coattails amid Florida red wave

Ron DeSantis
Incumbent Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at an election night party after winning his race for reelection in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) Rebecca Blackwell/AP

DeSantis-backed school board candidates ride governor’s coattails amid Florida red wave

A cohort of conservative school board candidates in Florida backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) rode the coattails of his landslide victory Tuesday and won their respective races.

While DeSantis’s 20-percentage-point blowout victory over Democrat Charlie Crist was a historic accomplishment in the traditionally purple state, the electoral victories of conservative school board candidates endorsed by DeSantis in localities throughout the Sunshine State provided further evidence of the state’s rightward shift.

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PARENTAL RIGHTS TAKE THE MIDTERM SPOTLIGHT IN THESE MAJOR SCHOOL BOARD RACES

DeSantis, as part of a renewed focus on education issues, initially endorsed 30 school board candidates over the summer. The governor’s parent-focused education agenda made national headlines earlier this year as a parental rights bill the governor supported was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics outraged at a provision that prohibited classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students from kindergarten to third grade.

At his victory party Tuesday, DeSantis leaned into the culture wars that catapulted him into the national spotlight, proclaiming, “Florida is where woke goes to die.”

The majority of the governor’s preferred school board candidates won their nonpartisan races outright in August, but six candidates endorsed by the Republican governor faced runoff elections Tuesday, and all of them won. Overall, 25 of the 30 candidates DeSantis endorsed won their respective elections.

Indian River County school board candidate Jacqueline Rosario, an incumbent with DeSantis’s support, defeated her opponent Cindy Gibbs to secure another term on the board of the eastern Florida school board.

Elsewhere, DeSantis-endorsed Cindy Spray defeated Harold Byrd for a seat on the Manatee County School Board, as did Al Hernandez, whom the governor backed for a seat on the Pasco County school board, and in Volusia County, the governor’s preferred candidate, Jamie Haynes, defeated Albert Bouie.

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Lee County school board candidate Sam Fisher, with DeSantis’s support, defeated Kathy Fanny, who had the backing of the local Democratic Party. And by a razor-thin margin of eight votes, DeSantis-endorsed Stephanie Busin triumphed in her campaign for a seat on the Hendry County school board.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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