Gov. DeSantis lauds Joseph Ladapo as a ‘superstar’ ahead of confirmation
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 9/21/21-Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD, left, is congratulated by Gov. Ron DeSantis after DeSantis named him Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health, Tuesday during a news conference at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

DeSantis praised the embattled doctor and argued he should be 'overwhelmingly' confirmed.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo will enjoy the renewed blessing of Gov. Ron DeSantis Wednesday at his early morning confirmation hearing. 

The Senate Health Policy Committee is slated to weigh Ladapo’s appointment as the state’s top public health official. 

Speaking ahead of the meeting, DeSantis praised the embattled doctor and argued he should be “overwhelmingly” confirmed.

“Dr. Ladapo is a superstar,” DeSantis told reporters at a campaign event.

Ladapo came under fire in October when Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky asked him to leave her office after he refused to wear a mask despite warning she had a serious medical condition. Polsky later revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The interaction — first reported by Florida Politics — generated national media buzz and even drew the ire of Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican.

It also united Democratic lawmakers against Ladapo. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book were among the many Democratic leaders who rebuked Ladapo after the incident.

“Dr. Ladapo has proven himself time and time again to be anti-science and anti-public health,” Fried, a gubernatorial candidate, said Wednesday. “He’s a quack who shouldn’t be anywhere near our state’s Surgeon General office, let alone running it. I hope the Senate can come together in a bipartisan way to reject his nomination and protect our state from the dangerous policies and conspiracy theories he and Gov. DeSantis have been promoting.”  

DeSantis, however, maintains the doctor is the right man for the job. He credited Ladapo with going against the grain despite pressure from media and others in the medical community. 

Like DeSantis, Ladapo is a critic of vaccine mandates and taken stances that contrast the general consensus of medical experts.

“Do you want someone that’s just going to go along with the crowd, or do you want someone that’s actually going to look at the data firsthand?” asked DeSantis.

The Republican Governor also touted Ladapo’s background. 

The son of Nigerian immigrants, Ladapo is a Harvard graduate, former student athlete and a tenured professor at UCLA. He also holds a MD and Ph.D. 

DeSantis was stunned he joined the administration given his resume. 

“Call him,” DeSantis recollected telling a former chief of staff. “There’s no way in hell he’s gonna come to Florida from there… but he did and we’re fortunate about that.”

Ladapo’s experience in handling COVID-19 patients will likely be among the issues Senators raise with the doctor. A MSNBC report alleges Ladapo did not treat COVID-19 patients while at UCLA, an assertion that contradicts Ladapo’s previous statements. 

The report cites four unnamed sources at UCLA. 

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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