Cord Byrd confirmation breezes through Senate panel

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The full Senate is likely to confirm the Neptune Beach Republican.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ choice for Secretary of State met with approval in a Senate committee Wednesday.

The nomination of Neptune Beach’s Cord Byrd was an easy sell to the Governmental Oversight and Accountability panel.

He shared “accomplishments” and “goals moving forward” with the committee, noting he was a “fifth-generation Florida native.” He also credited the Legislature as being “instrumental” in ensuring Florida is the “gold standard of elections administration.”

“I really do have the best job in state government,” Byrd contended.

The Secretary said future priorities included efforts to strengthen vote-by-mail security and online voter registration, but stressed his role is to “implement the policy that you all pass.”

Asked what the “biggest threat” to Florida elections might be by Democratic Sen. Tracie Davis, Byrd cited “foreign actors” as the “No. 1 daily threat,” one that his Department recognizes.

Byrd, who had previously served for more than two terms as a state lawmaker representing Duval and Nassau Counties, was appointed ahead of the 2022 election, which was a blowout win for Republicans in Florida against overmatched Democratic opposition.

“Secretary Byrd has done an excellent job ensuring Florida has fair and secure elections. It is my pleasure to have him return as Secretary of State for another term,” DeSantis tweeted.

Byrd, a three-term Neptune Beach Republican, replaced Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who left the administration to run for Congress last spring. Byrd’s appointment came after he had been exploring a run for Senate, ultimately abandoning that after Senate leadership endorsed now-Sen. Clay Yarborough over Byrd and another legislator vying for the office.

Secretary Byrd has already dealt with a number of controversies after his appointment. He inherited a legal challenge to Florida’s congressional maps, which were drawn by DeSantis’ Office and passed by the Legislature during a Special Session. Those maps survived challenges and were used in the 2020 General Election, one in which Republicans’ increased advantage in the state led to the U.S. House flipping Republican in 2022.

Byrd oversaw the Primary Election on Aug. 23, the General Election on Nov. 8, and the Department’s implementation of the Office of Election Crimes and Security.

In his nearly six years in the House, Byrd served on the Public Integrity and Elections Committee each Session. He served as Vice Chair during the 2019 and 2020 Sessions. During the 2022 Session, he led the State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee.

Byrd also carried several of DeSantis’ priority bills, including a 2019 ban on sanctuary cities currently in the courts, an E-Verify rule to enforce immigration law, and last year’s anti-riot law. Byrd also was a prime co-sponsor on the Parents’ Bill of Rights and a 2021 cybersecurity infrastructure bill.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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