Florida Democrats join Pennsylvania colleagues to slam Ron DeSantis’ agenda

Shevrin Jones, Anna Eskamani said Florida's Governor wants to export culture wars nationwide.

As Pennsylvania Democrats ready for a visit from Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida lawmakers chimed in with warnings.

“We are not a free state,” said state Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Miami Lakes Democrat. “Free states don’t ban books. Free states don’t ban ideas. Free states don’t ban our children from being their true and authentic selves.”

Florida Watch, a progressive group closely watching the Governor’s policies, held a joint press conference with political leaders in the Keystone State. The virtual presser took place a day before DeSantis is expected to speak at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference.

Pennsylvania leaders tied DeSantis directly to Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Governor last year. While DeSantis endorsed and campaigned alongside Mastriano, the Pennsylvania Republican lost by a landslide to Democrat Josh Shapiro.

“We cannot trust carnival barkers like Ron DeSantis and Doug Mastriano to ever be focused on the things that we are focused on as legislators, on the concerns that our families and communities have,” said Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a Democrat. “We deserve better than these people.”

Florida progressive politicians were happy to offer reasons why Pennsylvania should deliver a frosty reception. State Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, attacked DeSantis as a corporate Republican obsessed with culture wars.

“Things are pretty intense in Florida as Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to run for President,” she said.

“He is basically leveraging every bully pulpit he has to be as extreme as possible. And I have always shared, especially with our national audiences, that we are as a state the canary in a coal mine. You do not want what Florida is experiencing in your state, let alone in this country.”

Pennsylvania leaders voiced concern that Florida has served as a testing ground for extreme policies that conservative officials across the country later co-opt.

Moira Kaleida, director of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, noted Pennsylvania school boards have significant power in their state, and some run by Republican majorities have mimicked policies like Florida’s “parental rights” law.

“We’re seeing across Pennsylvania, parents, teachers and community members organize and become more active on their school boards to push back against those,” Kaleida said. “So I think there’s a clear rejection of the DeSantis agenda that’s happening.”

But the groups clearly take the rhetoric of DeSantis seriously. Kenyatta, for his part, noted a strong connection between the snowbird populations who spend much of the year in Pennsylvania but winter in Florida, bringing views of the Sunshine State government back home when they return.

Jones warned the U.S. should be wary of policies coming out of Florida, where DeSantis has found a lapping audience of supporters who re-elected him in 2022. He said a pro-union state like Pennsylvania should be made aware of the result of the right-wing policies.

“We now have a Governor whose agenda is totally anti-freedom, anti-public education, anti-worker, a corporate authoritarian who is trying to inject politics into every aspect of our lives with the rich getting richer and everyday folks getting left behind,” Jones said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Mercury Shampoo Ed

    March 31, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    The Dems keep fking up running the wrong people. If they had run someone besides Gillum then we wouldn’t be in this mess. Crist was ok but by then it was too late. Mini Hitler will continue to pass Sharia Law.

  • Anna

    March 31, 2023 at 4:45 pm

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  • Earl Pitts American

    April 1, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    Good afternoon America,
    Sometimes even I, the sharpest political expert in the world, Earl Pitts American, have to just sit down and ponder on:
    “Just how in the Hell did Pennsylvaina’s citizens get so stupid in such vast numbers”?
    Now in Florida we only have a tiny minority of dook for brains citizens but Pennsyalvania is off the chain.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts American

Comments are closed.


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