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Anthony Sabatini in brownface. Photo from Orlando Weekly.


Local paper to Anthony Sabatini: Grow up!

Florida Politics published photos of Sabatini in Blackface in October.

A Lake County-based newspaper has some advice for state Rep. Anthony Sabatini: Grow up!

A staff editorial published Sunday calls the freshman lawmaker out for a “blackface” scandal drawing national attention.

“It is time for Anthony Sabatini to shed his class clown antics and become an adult,” the editorial reads.

“In doing so, we hope he remembers that he represents people of various colors, cultures, faiths and beliefs. Pay attention to them and their needs rather than spending so much time drawing attention to yourself.”

The paper mentions a photo of a 16-year-old Sabatini wearing blackface, an image first published in October by Florida Politics. It also references a “brownface” photo of a 14-year-old Sabatini wearing stereotypical Mexican garb, originally published by Orlando Weekly last week.

Sabatini dismissed the pictures to the newspaper as “silly stuff high schoolers do.”

“I’ve never met a single person calling for my resignation who isn’t a liberal Democrat,” he said. “The Democrats are mad because I beat them really, really bad.”

Indeed, the Republican defeated Democrat Cynthia Brown, who last week called on Sabatini to resign, by 13 points in November.

But it’s not just Democrats angry at the insensitive images.

At least two major institutional donors to the Republican Party of Florida tell Florida Politics they are questioning whether they should hold back donations until the Sabatini scandal is fully addressed.

Daily Commercial editorial board members want more as well. The staff editorial notes years of antics predating Sabatini’s election to the state House.

Those include Sabatini as a Eustis City Council member calling for discarded Confederate monuments to be donated to the city — at the height of the Charlottesville Unite The Right riots.

“Unrepentant, he carried his antics to Tallahassee,” the editorial notes.

“In recent months, he has posted to social media a photo of himself wearing a Donald Trump mask while standing in front of a Mount Dora restaurant where the celebrity chef had declined an invitation to cook at Trump’s Mar a Lago resort.”

And it notes anti-straw ban legislation Sabatani has pushed on social media with pictures of himself drinking coffee and wine through straws.

The editorial comes short of demanding Sabatini resign.

“Most people wouldn’t want to be judged as adults for missteps they made as teens,” the newspaper notes.

But editorial board members say the scandals draw embarrassment to the region.

“Please, represent us all with dignity and respect, Anthony,” the editorial closes.

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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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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