The Florida Education Association is applauding U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist for his selection of Karla Hernandez-Mats as his running mate.
Crist, who is running against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for the role of Governor, announced Hernandez-Mats as his pick for Lieutenant Governor Saturday morning. The FEA immediately praised the decision, saying it reaffirmed Crist’s support for Florida’s students, educators and public schools.
“We’re thrilled by Charlie Crist’s choice,” FEA President Andrew Spar said in a statement. “Karla Hernandez will be a great lieutenant governor for all the people of Florida. She’s a mom with two kids in our public schools, a teacher focused on students with special needs, and cares deeply about children, families and communities. By choosing Karla Hernandez, Crist makes clear that he values Florida’s students and respects our educators.”
The FEA joined the Florida AFL-CIO in endorsing Crist back in May, highlighting his education priorities. The addition of Hernandez-Mats to his team further cements support from the education community.
Hernandez-Mats is the president of the United Teachers of Dade, overseeing the operations of the largest labor union in the Southeast United States in the fourth-largest school district nationwide. The National Education Association announced their support of Hernandez-Mats as Crist’s pick earlier.
The former teacher also serves on the FEA Governance Board and Executive Cabinet, the Florida AFL-CIO’s executive board, the Children’s Trust’s executive board and the Education Fund’s executive board. She is also a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
In 2010, she was selected as Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School in Miami-Dade County for her work with special needs children.
It’s a pivotal time for education, with most conservatives and progressive split on where the power should rest when it comes to school safety, education on sex and gender identity, and how racism and slavery should be taught.
Florida Republicans have started drilling into Hernández-Mats’ record already. The Republican Party of Florida issued a statement Friday railing Crist for picking her, calling it “another slap in the face to Florida parents.”
In the past 24 hours, Christina Pushaw, the DeSantis campaign’s director of rapid response, has shared Hernández-Mats’ comments on former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, school board meeting protesters and COVID-19 lockdowns, clear signs of the coming attack lines against the Democratic ticket.