On Friday, a lawsuit was filed in Broward County regarding the scheduling of Special Elections. I had been meaning to write about this issue for a while but all the other DeSantis news has delayed it – this lawsuit gives us cause to discuss it.
Governor DeSantis came into office with a vendetta against Broward County and repeatedly made clear to those locals he spoke to per my sources that he was going to interfere in the county which he deemed “corrupt.” As a Broward County Democrat that has been far from pleased with the transactional nature of many local pols in this one-party county, it sounded fine to me.
But the actual application of this led to the quick realization that DeSantis was trying to use his power as Governor (one where we have spoken time and again on him not respecting the actual limits of that power prescribed by the constitution) weaken the Democratic Party in southern Florida. He’s suspended, removed and bullied local officials and shown a general contempt for the county rhetorically, similar to the view right-wing pundits have of California.
Similarly DeSantis interfered in Palm Beach County, unjustifiably removing Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. To equate Supervisor Bucher’s performance with that of rightly-dismissed Broward Supervisor Brenda Snipes (who by the way, was removed by Governor Scott, though DeSantis continues to take credit for it) was the height of forming a false narrative.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen time and again that DeSantis acts as an authoritarian dictator who is unwilling to allow local governments in southern Florida (or other Democratic parts of the state) to formulate its own policies based on local preferences to keep its population safe. School districts, especially Broward have been roughed-up by this Governor and his minions in ways unseen in the modern history of this state.
This brings us to the current situation, where DeSantis blatantly sat on a Congressional vacancy caused by Congressman Alcee Hastings’ death in the spring prompting a lawsuit and has similarly done so with three legislative vacancies which were caused by Florida’s resign-to-run law as legislators lined up to succeed Hastings.
All four of these seats are in heavily African-American or Caribbean-American areas of South Florida. What DeSantis is doing is intentionally weakening minority and Democratic Party representation in both the US Congress (where as we have seen time and again this year that every vote matters).
So effectively DeSantis’ stalling and drawn out process is leaving an African-American/Black majority seat in Congress vacant for EIGHT months and THREE legislative seats vacant through the legislative session. In the past, when GOP members have resigned or died from safe Republican seats with white majorities, we’ve seen Governor Scott and Governor DeSantis quickly schedule special elections to ensure the vacancies are quickly filled.
Once again DeSantis feels he will face no consequence for his incredibly partisan and damaging actions. He had little concern that minority communities in southern Florida will be left unrepresented for large portions of this current Congress (it would be interesting to learn if DeSantis spoke to and colluded with GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy when he sat on calling the Special Election after Hastings’ death) and has effectively left the Democrats and south Florida down THREE seats for this coming legislative session.
So not only has DeSantis pushed legislation in the state that would disenfranchise many minority voters in the name of “Election Security” (aka the Big Lie), but he is also blatantly leaving minority seats open as long as possible in representative legislative bodies – which of course dilutes the voting power and strength of minorities, something the Voting Rights Act has been implemented to prevent.
Once again, DeSantis is playing a hardball game of race-based governance and politics that even conservatives Rick Scott and Jeb Bush would find unfamiliar and perhaps even distasteful.