Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing re-election this fall and will face Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist. Crist selected a Florida teacher’s union president, Karla Hernández-Mats, to be his lieutenant governor candidate in this year’s 2022 election.
Business Insider reported about Crist’s selection of Hernández-Mats, a daughter of Honduran immigrants, had served as president of the United Teachers of Dade since 2016 and is a former middle school special education teacher. In 2010, she was named Florida’s “Teacher of the Year.”
DeSantis made reforming public education a key part of his re-election platform, based on Florida’s successful navigation of keeping schools open during the coronavirus pandemic. He kept schools open during the pandemic, while the likes of teachers’ unions and federal agencies said that opening schools would be disastrous for public health.
But the numbers backed DeSantis’s decision, compared to the school shutdown policies emphasized by teachers’ unions and the federal government.
When asked about the unions’ stubbornness to not reopen schools, Hernández-Mats claimed that her pro-mask mandate and school openings stances were not wrong. She had pushed for virtual and remote classes and closing schools, while imposing mask mandates on students when schools were opened for in-person classes.
She falsely claimed that the teachers’ unions were “always… in favor of opening our schools.” In fact, teachers’ unions across the country clamored for shutting schools during the pandemic and some unions went on strike for pay increases.
The union leader also said that Florida voters who put DeSantis’s endorsed school board candidates across the state “need more education” about real-life education issues in public schools.
During her acceptance speech, she blasted DeSantis and called him an authoritarian. Hernández-Mats said, “Are you tired of the culture wars and the extremists that are dictating what we can say and do?” she added, “Are you sick of politicians who act like authoritarians trying to tear apart our democracy? That’s why we are here today: to defeat Ron DeSantis and bring decency and respect back to the state of Florida.”
The announcement was made at the same school where Hernández-Mats taught at Hialeah Middle School, which is located in Miami-Dade County. Hernández-Mats has not held public office before, but she was widely criticized for a social media post in 2016 which “she said many people in Cuba were mourning the death of Fidel Castro, Cuba’s communist dictator,” according to Business Insider.