‘We will replace you’: Republican members of Pinellas County Delegation face pressure for Special Session
Rep. Nick DiCeglie. Image via Colin Hackley.

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Anti-mandate constituents flooded lawmakers' meeting to demand action.

Republican members of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation faced scrutiny Thursday morning from a slew of conservative commenters calling for a Special Session to ban mask and vaccine mandates.

The commenters, many from the county’s Community Patriots group, pointed their criticisms toward conservative members of the delegation — including Reps. Chris Latvala and Nick DiCeglie and Sens. Ed Hooper and Jeff Brandes — during the delegation meeting.

The speakers urged lawmakers to call a Special Session in support of a bill (HB 75) filed by Howey-in-the-Hills Rep. Anthony Sabatini that seeks to ban COVID-19-related mandates, like those requiring vaccines or masks.

“You are in a really unique position to uphold our constitutional rights to make ethical decisions for our community,” said Christine Bauhs, with Florida Freedom Keepers. “For all the conservatives sitting before me I’m putting you on notice — if you will not take a stand for bodily autonomy in Florida, we will replace you.”

Although the conservative members addressed by the speakers sat maskless, contrasted by their Democratic counterparts, the commenters were clear in their message — Republican lawmakers who don’t call for action will be challenged in the 2022 Primary Election, despite the shaky viability of such campaigns.

“We already plan on giving you a Primary from hell. We already have people,” said Audra Christian, of Pinellas Community Patriots, about Latvala’s seat. “I’ve been a registered Republican since I was 18 years old. You have left us.”

Latvala is not up for reelection as he faces term limits. He’s instead mulling a run for Pinellas County Commission.

The commenters notably honed in on Latvala, with some criticizing him for looking down at his phone while they were speaking, causing some commotion between DiCeglie, who was chairing the meeting, and commentators.

“Rep. Latvala could you get off your phone please, I’d appreciate it if you’d pay attention,” Isaiah Niel said, who was then met with echoes of support.

“My last concern is the lack of response I’ve seen from this delegation on these issues. Your silence is deafening,” he continued, advocating once again for a Special Session banning COVID-19-related mandates.

But, masks and shots weren’t the only things the delegation’s Republican majority was criticized for — the group also heard from community members about voter fraud, going as far as to claim that Pinellas County is rampant with such activity. There is no credible evidence to suggest widespread voter fraud occured in the county.

The claims showed further rifts in the party, and its leadership, with one commenter calling out Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls for saying that Florida’s elections ran smoothly in 2020.

“No sir, they did not. Our voter rolls will be used against you,” said Cathi Chamberlain, with Defend Florida, about Sprowls’ comments. “There was fraud here, right here in Pinellas. The RNC wants us to ignore what we have seen. We will not.”

Such a claim prompted response from Brandes, who told the commenters that they should go to the Sheriff’s Office with any information pertaining to election fraud, rather than lawmakers.

“We make the laws, they enforce them,” Brandes said.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


12 comments

  • Alex

    September 9, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    Why do flaming far right racist groups of morons use the word Patriots in their name so often?

    Hate and ignorance are anti-Patriotic.

    Reply

    • Beth Phillips

      September 11, 2021 at 3:18 pm

      Agree, but the good thing is they’ll all be dead soon from Covid. So no need to worry. And as they expire they will demand a vaccine with their last breath….

      Reply

    • Richard Thomas Byrum

      September 15, 2021 at 8:38 am

      You wrote: Why do flaming far right racist groups of morons use the word Patriots in their name so often? Hate and ignorance are anti-Patriotic. The answer is: to distinguish between your description of the unpatriotic left and the Americans who actually love and understand our nation.

      Reply

      • PeterH

        September 15, 2021 at 8:44 am

        LOL 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

        Reply

  • PeterH

    September 9, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Blah blah blah! Vaccination passports are happening! Broward Center theater complex has already imposed a mask mandate and a full vaccination requirement to attend the theater. After you purchase your $100.00 theater ticket if you haven’t been vaccinated you have the option of rushing out to get a certified negative test right before each and every performance! Good luck with that and make sure your venue accepts the type of test you will present! OTHER LIVE THEATERS ARE SOON TO FOLLOW.

    A few bed and breakfast is Hudson NY area and Cape Cod ARE REQUIRING vaccinations!

    Passports are around the corner. Sorry folks but vaccinated people have rights too. We have the right to not be around the unvaccinated.

    Reply

    • Mike Hackgone

      September 9, 2021 at 8:47 pm

      Dumbass! LOL!

      Reply

    • CJ

      September 10, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      If vaccination works to shield you from this disease, why do you fear being around the unvaccinated? If vaccination doesn’t work, why do you not fear being around the vaccinated?

      Reply

  • Edward Lyle

    September 9, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    Alex and Pete… project much?

    … clowns

    Try to keep up kids… Neither face diapers nor two shots of sugar water and fertilizer runoff prevents anyone from catching the China Bio-Weapon Flu.

    … on THIS… the Science is Settled

    Reply

    • Peterh

      September 9, 2021 at 4:21 pm

      You can disregard Edward’s FSKE NEWS ALERT!

      Reply

    • Alex

      September 9, 2021 at 5:36 pm

      Poor Ed.

      You’re a poster child for far right mindless lies.

      Reply

  • rich

    September 10, 2021 at 9:39 am

    science is clear, vaccine and masking reduced the spread of covid. this is a public health emergency. there are many other vaccines mandated. do you care more about getting re-elected, then doing what is best for the people of Florida? Floridians are disgusted with politics overruling common sense. Republican, Democrat, or independent, if you don’t do what is right for the people of Florida you will be in the unemployment line

    Reply

  • t-rtuh

    September 10, 2021 at 10:23 am

    Hey, if it means more dead Trump supporters, perhaps that is what nature intended.

    Reply

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