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Anthony Sabatini 'thugs' Tweet earned Democratic rebuke.


Fla. Dems: GOP leaders should call on lawmaker to resign over blackface controversy.

Florida Democratic Party called on Gov. Ron DeSantis and Speaker of the House Jose Oliva to demand state Rep. Anthony Sabatini’s resignation.

The suggestion came after Sabatini’s Democratic opponent, Cynthia Brown, said the Howey-in-the-Hills Republican should quit over a surfaced “blackface” photo.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo on Tuesday noted the governor took swift action after photos of Secretary of State Mike Ertel surfaced.

“Governor DeSantis did the right thing in accepting Michael Ertel’s resignation — and he and Leader Jose Oliva should do the right thing and ask for the resignation of Rep. Anthony Sabatini,” Rizzo said.

“In calling out racist behavior Florida Democrats and Republicans should stand united.”

Sabatini’s office on Tuesday said it had no response to Rizzo’s statement.

Neither DeSantis nor Oliva, both Republicans, have responded to Rizzo’s request. This post will be updated appropriately.

Of course, while Sabatini and Ertel have both faced public scorn over old photos of themselves in blackface, the circumstances are notably different.

Both photographs date to about 2005. But Ertel wore blackface as part of costume where he portrayed a Hurricane Katrina survivor shortly after that storm devastated New Orleans. He darkened his skin, wore bright lipstick and fake breasts, and topped it off with a New Orleans Saints bandana.

Sabatini, in contrast, said he dressed as a friend who was black, Brandon Evans, on a celebrity look-alike day at school. Evans dressed as Sabatini as well. While Evans did not lighten his skin for the look, he said he did not take offense to Sabatini then or now.

Ertel was an adult at the time of his picture, and had recently been appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush as Seminole County Supervisor of Elections. Sabatini was a sophomore attending Eustis High School.

The pictures originally surfaced in the media in October, shortly before Election Day. In November, Sabatini defeated Brown by about 13 percent.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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