Florida Gubernatorial Race: Meet the Candidates

Brooke Wilensky, Copy Editor

Nov. 8: Election Day. A day some may look forward to, while others dread. On Aug. 23, incumbent governor Ron DeSantis won the gubernatorial primary for the Republican party and Charlie Crist won for the Democratic party. The results of the Nov. 8 election will determine which one of these two candidates will become Florida’s new governor. 

The two candidates have opposing views on their approach to governing Florida, with major points of contention surrounding property taxes, abortion, inflation, the environment and immigration policies. 

Both candidates have served Florida as governors in previous years. Crist was the governor from 2007-2011 while DeSantis serves as  Florida’s current governor, initially elected in 2018.

The recent passing of the “Parental Rights in Education” bill led to major conflict among Floridians. The goal of the bill is to reinforce parents’ rights in making decisions on the upbringing of their children. This has caused controversy regarding the LGBTQ+ community, as the bill’s opposition has dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

“We, the parents, have the right to decide on the fundamentals of the education of our kids,” Hispanic Communication Director of the Republican National Committee Jamie Florez said. “And we need to make sure that we have seen the decisions that the teachers and the schools are making directly relating to education for kids.”

On the other hand, Karla Hernandez, President of United Teachers of Dade and lieutenant governor candidate running alongside Crist, believes the bill causes harm to the LGBTQ+ community because it prohibits teachers from educating students on related subjects. 

“We have to be willing to say that we see you, the LGBTQ+ community, as part of our community. We value you and see you as human beings and that we are not going to allow anyone to mistreat anybody in this state,” Hernandez said.

Additionally, since the start of the school year, Florida has faced a teacher shortage with 5,208 reported teacher vacancies.

Governor DeSantis plans to combat this issue by increasing teacher pay and introducing initiatives to help, such as recruiting retired first responders and veterans to teach in schools, creating an apprenticeship program in which teachers can mentor aspiring educators for a bonus and a scholarship program for teachers who teach dual-enrollment courses.

In comparison, Crist aims to declare a teacher and staff shortage emergency and raise the starting salary for teachers above $47,500. Additionally, Crist plans to make schools safer and protect against school shootings.

In the past, the Republican party has imposed some restrictions on guns; however, DeSantis aims to ensure that all citizens can exercise their Second Amendment rights.

“It is very important that we still respect the Second Amendment, but we need to do some things to not enable people with mental problems to purchase guns, not only in the state of Florida, but in the rest of the country as well,” Florez said. “[All while] keeping the Second Amendment and the freedoms that the Second Amendment establishes for law-abiding people that want to purchase and own guns in their own homes.”

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the decision gave states the freedom to make their own policies on abortion. This ruling has resulted in abortion rights becoming a controversial issue in various elections.

If Crist is elected as governor, he promises to veto all bills restricting abortion, make Florida a safe haven for those providing abortion assistance and protect abortion rights for those under Medicaid.

“We believe that women are full citizens, and should be treated as such — as full human beings and not second-class citizens. And so, we believe that every woman should have the liberty and freedom of making decisions about their bodies in the intimacy with their families without the government being involved,” Hernandez said.

Governor DeSantis’ stance on abortion is “pro-life,” passing legislation prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks of gestation.

“What we have established on the Republican side is that we are to defend the life of the unborn and we are going to keep continuing to do so,” Florez said. The election is approaching quickly, and it is the American citizens’ responsibility to cast an educated vote. Early voting ends on Nov. 6 and voting will pick up again on Nov. 8, the official Election Day. For more information on where and how to vote, visit myflorida.com.