THE WASHINGTON POST, MIAMI
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis saw big wins Tuesday night in nearly two dozen school board races where he endorsed conservative candidates backing his education agenda, underscoring his influence as he uses local races to build his voter base and showcase his national platform.
After a summer of testy campaigns that centered around race, LGBTQ rights, school textbooks and even abortion, at least 20 of the 30 DeSantis-backed school board candidates won their races in Tuesday’s primary.
Conservatives say they now have new majorities on school boards in Miami-Dade, Duval, Sarasota and Brevard counties, potentially reshaping policies for more than half a million students and thousands of teachers.
“Just as Trump is doing nationwide, DeSantis is doing in Florida”
Anthony Verdugo, executive director of the Miami-based Christian Family Coalition, a conservative political advocacy group, likened DeSantis to “a kingmaker” in inspiring voters to the polls — even against well-known incumbents.
In Miami-Dade, one of the two candidates he endorsed in two heavily Cuban American communities ousted a Republican who had been on the county school board for 24 years.
“Just as Trump is doing nationwide, DeSantis is doing in Florida,” Verdugo said, comparing DeSantis to the former president, who has been flexing his political influence in this year’s Republican primaries — with mixed results.
The Republican governor has seized on parental rights as a key part of his messaging on education as he gears up for a reelection race against U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D), and potentially a 2024 presidential bid.
Some Florida Democrats said Wednesday the party must quickly figure out how it can more effectively challenge DeSantis, who they fear is succeeding in building his political brand by turning nonpartisan local races into America’s latest ideological battlefield.
“We have to focus on these local races,” said Max Frost, the 25-year-old liberal activist who was elected Tuesday as the Democratic nominee for an Orlando-area congressional seat …