DeSantis and conservatives win more Florida school board wins


Parental rights groups also played a role, such as the conservative Moms for Liberty, which backed 12 Florida school board candidates and made campaign donations. Florida Democrats endorsed 20 candidates ahead of the general election, posting six wins and 10 losses with two races not fully counted at press time.

These efforts illustrate how education was a big issue in 2022, one that played out in both national and local races. DeSantis is believed to be the first Florida governor to endorse school board members, a move that prompted Democrats to follow suit.

Of the six candidates endorsed by DeSantis in Tuesday’s runoff election, five faced opponents backed by the Florida Democratic Party. And four of those DeSantis candidates have won their races.

In Indian River County, Jacqueline Rosario, who is supported by DeSantis, Moms for Liberty and the 1776 Project, won her re-election bid against Cindy Gibbs, a Democratic endorser with more than 55 percent of the vote.

In Manatee County, Cindy Spray, backed by DeSantis and Moms for Liberty, won over Harold Byrd, who was backed by Democrats.

In Pasco County, a candidate backed by DeSantis and Moms for Liberty, Al Hernandez, defeated Democratic-backed James Washington after winning 65 percent of the vote.

In Volusia, Jamie Haynes, backed by DeSantis and Moms for Liberty, won a seat over Albert L. Bouie, backed by the Democrats.

In Lee County, Kathy Fanny, endorsed by Democrats won over Sam Fisher, who had the support of DeSantis and Moms for Liberty.

And in Hendry County, Stephanie Busin won her race by just eight votes after earning endorsements from DeSantis and Moms for Liberty.

In three other races, Democratic-backed school board candidates faced Moms for Liberty-backed candidates. Those supported by Moms for Liberty, a group that has emerged at the forefront of education in part by actively participating in local school board meetings, have won each of these contests.

In Pinellas, Stephanie Meyer defeated Brian Martin, who was backed by the Democrats; and Dawn Peters, backed by Moms for Liberty and the 1776 Project, defeated Keesha Benson, another Democratic endorser.

And in Brevard County, Moms for Liberty candidate Gene Trent was victorious over Erin Dunne, a Democratic-endorsed candidate.

Parental rights have been a key battle cry for DeSantis and conservatives, who in Florida have passed laws such as Florida’s « Parental Rights in Education » law, called « Don’t Say Gay » by critics. opponents, which prohibits teachers from leading classroom lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation for children in kindergarten through third grade. Republicans are also pushing to expand school choice and transparency around what students are learning in school, particularly around topics of race and gender identity.

Democrats have fought back against the DeSantis administration’s policies by pointing to the teacher shortage plaguing Florida and student test scores showing a decline since the pandemic.


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