As debate went late into the night Wednesday on a bill restricting abortion rights, tensions heated up both in official proceedings and beyond.
Two Duval County legislators were on opposing ends of an argument, with Rep. Angie Nixon labeling Rep. Cord Byrd a racist “unfit to be in office.” Byrd countered, saying Nixon is just a “one-trick pony” who routinely calls her opponents White supremacists.
Nixon posted on Twitter overnight Wednesday that an “unhinged” Byrd blamed Democratic legislators for protesters opposing the bill restricting the right to abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy.
“He turned around and began antagonizing and cussing at Black Caucus members during the HB 5 protest in the gallery. I’m disgusted. We can debate our values but to cuss Black Members out on the House floor illustrates he’s unfit to be in office,” Nixon asserted. “We are NOT f***ing jokes as he professed on the House floor.”
Nixon then suggested that Byrd’s outburst signifies he would be unfit for a judgeship he allegedly wants: “The sad thing about all of this is, I heard Byrd wants to be judge on several occasions. I am hoping the rumors aren’t true. If he ever gets a judgeship, Floridians will suffer. More importantly, Black or low-income Floridians will suffer. He clearly has biases (and) lacks composure.”
Nixon has called for Byrd’s censure in the House.
In a message to Florida Politics Thursday morning, Nixon reiterated much of her case.
“He mouthed off to Rep. Travaris McCurdy calling him a f***ing joke after mouthing to many of us ‘I hope you’re f***ing proud’ during the protests in the gallery. As if we had something to do with it,” Nixon alleged.
Byrd rejected this characterization, saying Nixon is a “one-trick pony” who routinely charges political opponents with racism.
“All she has is calling people she disagrees with racists and White supremacists,” Byrd said, noting that while he did indeed call someone a “f***ing joke,” it wasn’t McCurdy.
He said he was referring to the spectacle of male protesters chanting “My body, my choice” in the midst of hours of debate over the abortion bill, a spectacle he said likely was “coordinated” by Democrats.
“I turned to one of my Republican colleagues and said, ‘Look at these f***ing idiots.'” Byrd explained. “At midnight? Yeah, that was uncalled for.”
Byrd also said he and McCurdy “cleared the air” afterward, though Nixon’s take is that there was a more enduring confrontation beforehand.
Byrd, per Nixon, kept jawing with Nixon and other members of the Legislative Black Caucus. Eventually, she and McCurdy “shouted at leadership to come get their Member.”
“He’s outta control, cussing at us and lacking decorum on the House floor,” Nixon described.
The incident led to Byrd apologizing to McCurdy after a visit to Speaker Chris Sprowls’ office, according to Nixon, before Byrd made what Nixon said was a false claim.
“Apparently he apologizes but then invokes me into the conversation saying I stir up trouble back home calling him racist and a White supremacist. Which I haven’t. Until today after his actions,” Nixon said.
Byrd roundly rejected Nixon’s argument, contending that as recently as a Duval Delegation meeting in November, Nixon “immediately went to social media and attacked” him after a tense moment there.
“This is what she does,” Byrd said. “This is her political MO. She’s not substantive so all she has are personal attacks.”
Byrd’s words, however, were undercut by McCurdy’s recollections.
McCurdy verified Byrd did apologize, but offered his own strong criticisms of Byrd. McCurdy noted Byrd was not in his assigned seat and turned around twice, seemingly goading a confrontation with Black legislators “deliberately.”
“We locked eyes,” said McCurdy, who like Nixon was a former legislative aide before getting elected to the House. McCurdy believes Republicans enable this sort of behavior from Byrd, who acts out of a sense of “white privilege.”
“He gets a pass from his peers. The consensus is this is what he does,” McCurdy contended.
Byrd’s peers are silent, on the record. But Democrats are speaking up and demanding action.
Rep. Dan Daley backed Nixon’s version of events in a tweet Thursday morning: “I saw it happen. The interaction was unbecoming of a member of the House, and should be dealt with swiftly. It isn’t the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last.”
We have reached out to Speaker Sprowls for his take on the drama. Thus far, there’s no comment, but we will revise as we learn more.
Nixon and Byrd are both running for re-election in their respective districts, though redistricting will change the maps for both of them. The repercussions of Wednesday night may be felt in the Duval Delegation and the House writ large for some time to come.
The sad thing about all of this is, I heard Byrd wants to be judge on several occasions. I am hoping the rumors aren’t true. If he ever gets a judgeship, Floridians will suffer. More importantly Black or low-income Floridians will suffer. He clearly has biases & lacks composure. https://t.co/YWc2DQCy4i
— Rep. Angie Nixon (@AngieNixon) February 17, 2022
February 17, 2022 at 12:58 pm
You know what they say one person’s white supremacist is another person’s president.
February 17, 2022 at 2:11 pm
I know Mr.Byrd, and he is not a racist, Nixon on the other hand, acts like a racist all the time when she stands with Ben Frazier , and we all know what he is about dont we!!!!
February 17, 2022 at 2:52 pm
Holding government accountable? Next you’re gonna tell me Byrd isn’t racist because he has a black friend. Most racists don’t come out & openly say it.
February 17, 2022 at 10:22 pm
Frankie, you ignorant and racist putz. Cancel Frankie!!!
February 18, 2022 at 9:18 am
I don’t know. Please tell me who he is and what he’s all about. I don’t want to make any incorrect assumptions,
February 17, 2022 at 10:46 pm
This behavior is deplorable! Can’t Floridians find better representatives to make laws we all have to abide by? I moved to Florida from Maryland, and I’m shocked at the expectations of young (usually) males that they have a “right” to serve in the government while they make a fortune and pass frivolous and harmful legislation.
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