Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried intends to defy a call by Gov. Ron DeSantis to lower flags to half-staff to honor conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who died last week.
Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat, issued a statement Monday that she will direct offices within her Cabinet agency not to lower flags. “Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots.
It is not a partisan political tool,” Fried said. “Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the governor's forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh - because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division.”
Fried added that “our flags will remain flying high to celebrate the American values of diversity, inclusion, and respect for all.” Fried oversees the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which includes nine regional licensing offices, 38 state forests and 23 agricultural law-enforcement inspection stations.
On Friday, DeSantis said Florida will lower flags to half-staff after funeral plans are set for Limbaugh, a Palm Beach resident who died Wednesday after a battle with cancer. “When there's things of this magnitude, once the date of internment for Rush is announced, we're going to be lowering the flags to half-staff,” DeSantis said during a campaign-style press event at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport in West Palm Beach.
In a statement Wednesday, DeSantis praised Limbaugh for having an ability to “connect with his listeners across the fruited plain - the hard-working, God-fearing and patriotic Americans who were and are the subject of derision and ridicule by the legacy media.” Fried is widely rumored to be considering a run against DeSantis in 2022.