MIAMI (WSVN) – When it comes to the Sunshine State’s high-profile race for governor, South Florida was ground zero on the last weekend of early voting before Tuesday’s primary, both for the incumbent and for the Democrats looking to take his job.
As part of his “Education Tour,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday spoke before an an enthusiastic crowd at a Metro Dade Firefighters union hall in Doral.
“USA! USA! USA!” chanted audience members.
“When it comes time for November, we have an opportunity to make our voice heard all around this country in ways that people are gonna know,” said the governor.
DeSantis emphasized promises made and kept, even as Florida faces a shortage of approximately 9,000 teachers.
“We said that we were going to eliminate [Florida Standards Assessments testing], and we did. We said we would put an emphasis on workforce education,” he said, “because not everyone needs to go to a traditional four-year, brick-and-ivy university. We want to recognize that there’s a need for other skills.”
Like DeSantis, two of the Democratic candidates looking to unseat him know that the road to November runs through South Florida.
On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist met with fellow Democratic candidates and with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who has endorsed him in the race.
“Are you going to vote in the election?” Crist asked a woman.
“I am. Actually, I just became a U.S. citizen last year,” she replied.
“Congratulations. That’s great,” said Crist.
Then it was off to see voters in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, where gentrification is a major issue.
Crist said he disapproves of the way DeSantis is running the state.
“I love Florida with all my heart, and what I’ve seen from this governor is, he’s tearing Florida apart, and that breaks my heart,” he said, “and so, what we need to do is bring Florida back together.”
Crist said his résumé, first as a Republican Florida governor and now as a Democratic member of Congress, means he’s ready to tackle topics important to all Florida voters.
“We elect Charlie Crist governor because I’ll bring people together and make sure that everyone is represented, that everyone’s vote is respected, that a woman’s right to choose is respected, that African Americans get their vote counted, that we make sure that other people don’t get intimidated by DeSantis’ voting police,” he said. “I mean, that’s intimidation, pure and simple. We deserve better than that; Florida is better than that.”
Crist’s opponent for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, made several local stops on Sunday, including in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach.
At the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, Fried told the congregation how her parents’ lessons and their faith guide her.
“What they taught me growing up, and I come from the Jewish faith, is ‘tikkun olam,’ to heal the world,” she said.
As the only Democrat elected to statewide office, Fried said she’s built momentum, and she looks forward to a history-making win in November.
“Giving people in our Democratic party hope and inspiration, and saying that when we elect the first female governor of the State of Florida, that we’re going to have an opportunity in our state to finally have somebody in the governor’s office who’s going to take care of and govern for all 22 million Floridians,” she said, “so we are excited about this bus tour, excited to talk to voters all over the state, and we feel, in Tuesday night, that we are going to be victorious to be the Democratic nominee.”
The one thing all candidates agree on is that all Floridians who are eligible to vote should cast their ballots for Tuesday’s primary.
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