An increasing number of Republican lawmakers have publicly turned on Rep. Anthony Sabatini as he skips Session to campaign out-of-state.
The Howey-in-the-Hills Republican, who is filed to run for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, has missed a significant portion of the Legislative Session. And he’s the only member of the part-time Legislature to miss so much of the 60-day period when members are expected to show up for votes.
Besides earning the new nickname “Absentini” on social media, more Republicans in his own caucus have started to publicly criticize his unexcused absences.
“It is difficult to be successful when you never show up to work,” tweeted Rep. Chuck Clemons, a Newberry Republican, who dropped his own nickname for the diminutive lawmaker. “The only records he has set are the number of missed votes and false claims against fellow Republicans. This guy is the best Democratic operative ever. #Tiniweenisabatini”
Sabatini the other day labeled Clemons, a Deputy Majority Leader in the House, as a “cuck” online and called for him to face a GOP primary.
Fellow Rep. Joe Harding also criticized Sabatini for his low level of contribution to legislating. After Sabatini criticized regulations on private sector vaccine mandates passed in a Special Session he called for before missing its opening, Harding suggested Sabatini has no standing to question decisions.
“This feels like the rooster taking credit for the sun rising,” Harding tweeted. “Is it the message or the messenger? If the bills you are voting for are so bad, where are your amendments? After months of calling everyone weak and terrible, are you admitting we got it right in Florida?”
Then, Sabatini skipped town to attend a fundraiser in Washington. Last week, he missed a critical period at the Session halfway point to campaign for Joe Kent, a Washington state candidate for Congress. Both chose to spend spring in Wyoming, with Sabatini tweeting a suggestion the two would seek to demolish the Dick Cheney Federal Building. The building is named for former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, who represented Wyoming in Congress in a seat now held by his daughter, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.
The inability to show up to work or avoid daily feuding with other Republicans has many fellow lawmakers irritated.
“Rep. Sabatini, you are the antithesis of what our founders envisioned as a citizen statesperson,” tweeted Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Lecanto Republican running for Senate. “You do not work well with others, nor do your due diligence on any bills and only speak/tweak in a self-serving manner. Remember our constitution starts with the word ‘WE’ not ‘ME.’”
While Sabatini has painted himself as a hero or the far right challenging establishment Republicans, Clemons’s message reminded that Sabatini for years was a registered Democrat.
That fact came up earlier this week when Sabatini ended up in an online argument with Rep. Chris Latvala, a Clearwater Republican.
“So when (you) voted in the Democratic Primary for President, did you vote for Hillary Clinton or [Barack] Obama Anthony Sabatini?” Latvala tweeted.
That was after Sabatini decided to hurl insults at Latvala’s father, former Sen. Jack Latvala.
Rep. Kaylee Tuck, a Lake Placid Republican, came to Rep. Latvala’s defense, and called into question Sabatini’s record of passing any legislation during his four years in the House.
“The ineffective ‘Rep’ who has to claim victories through co-sponsorship requests wants to trash genuinely good human beings to be relevant to his followers,” tweeted Tuck. “I guess Session gets boring when none of your bills move. Do we have office space available on the 23rd floor?”
Trading personal insults with those in his own party is nothing new for Sabatini. He regularly calls House Speaker Chris Sprowls a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only). He’s also called Republican Senate President Wilton Simpson a “liberal” and Rep. Thad Altman a “cuck,” a frequently thrown insult.
When video of several of insults surfaced last year, Sabatini found his legislative office relocated to the basement level of the House building.
Florida Politics reporter Jacob Ogles contributed to this report.