'Full-on nuts': Scathing Orlando Sentinel op-ed says Florida politics have gone from 'quirky' to 'absurd'
If there is one state in the U.S. that frustrates Democrats more than any other in 2023, it is Florida.
Democrats performed much better than expected in the 2022 midterms, slightly increasing their narrow majority in the U.S. Senate and winning gubernatorial races in key swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin. But Florida was a disaster for Democrats in 2022.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ran as a far-right MAGA culture warrior and was reelected by 19 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) defeated Democratic challenger Val Demings by 16 percent, and Republicans increased their majorities in the Florida State Legislature.
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The Sunshine State has become so Republican-dominated that some Democratic strategists don't believe it is in play for them in the 2024 presidential election. After 2022, a state that was leaning red has become even redder.
In an op-ed published by the Orlando Sentinel on March 29, Florida-based journalist Scott Maxwell doesn't try to sugarcoat the state of Florida politics. Maxwell laments that Florida "seems to have gone from quirky to full-on nuts."
"Consider some of our recent stories making national news," Maxwell writes. "A principal at a school in Tallahassee said she was forced to resign after a parent accused her of trying to show porn to children. The alleged porn? Michelangelo's statue of David. In St. Petersburg, a school has at least temporarily banned a Disney movie about civil-rights icon Ruby Bridges because a single parent objected."
The Sentinel opinion writer continues, "Not to be outdone on overreaction, GOP lawmakers are threatening to defund the entire city of St. Petersburg for supporting an abortion-rights organization. And if all of that absurdity wasn't enough, Gov. Ron DeSantis says he's considering making State Rep. Randy Fine — a walking, talking personification of absurdity — the next president of a major state university."
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Fine, a DeSantis ally, is known for his hateful, over-the-top attacks on political opponents.
Maxwell notes, "The Brevard County Republican called a school board member he disliked a 'whore' and got into a spat with the Special Olympics after the nonprofit group didn't invite him to a party at a local Chick-fil-A. Seriously, who beefs with the Special Olympics? He once threatened to show President Joe Biden 'why the Second Amendment was written'…. The man is absurdity incarnated. And what does he get for it? Legislative leadership posts and maybe the chance to run Florida Atlantic University."
The journalist stresses, in his op-ed, that the problem with Florida isn't that the state has a lot of conservatives — it's that the state has been taken over by "absurd" extremists.
"I still disagree with my far-left friends and readers who believe there are no sensible and decent conservatives out there," Maxwell argues. "I know there are. Some are my friends. But unless more of them start speaking up and saying: 'I'm tired of my state looking like an absurdist, rights-trampling joke,' we're going to keep seeing more of it. Absurdity will continue to be our new norm."
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Read Scott Maxwell's full Orlando Sentinel op-edat this link.
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