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First Coast Connect

Gubernatorial race; immigration policies

Schoolchildren and chaperones gather in front of the Florida Historic Capitol building during a legislative session, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack
Schoolchildren and chaperones gather in front of the Florida Historic Capitol building during a legislative session on Jan. 13, 2022, in Tallahassee.

Congressman Charlie Crist is the front-runner in a crowded field vying to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis this fall.

A new Mason-Dixon poll says former governor and current U.S. Rep. Crist is running well ahead of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Sen. Annette Taddeo in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

That same poll also shows the current governor is a heavy favorite to win reelection. DeSantis leads Crist by 51% to 43% among likely voters. And, 53% of Florida voters say they approve of the job DeSantis has done.

Crist says DeSantis can be beaten. He believes voters are tired of what he calls the governor’s “divisive tactics.” Crist spoke with us earlier this week.


Immigration policies

High-profile faith leaders and deep-pocketed business executives have been lining up against DeSantis’ immigration efforts. The governor wants to end funding for Florida shelters helping unaccompanied migrant children.

That is one strategy as part of the governor’s larger fight with President Biden over immigration.

DeSantis visited Miami last week for a roundtable with Cuban supporters of his immigration efforts. DeSantis rejected comparisons of child migrants today and Cuban children in the early 1960s who were part of Operation Pedro Pan, which was an effort between the federal government and the Catholic Church.

Operation Pedro Pan granted special waivers to 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children to come to the U.S.
DeSantis called it “disgusting” to compare those children with children who are coming to the United States now from south of the border.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of the Miami Archdiocese is among the faith leaders speaking out in opposition to the governor’s efforts. Wenski said, “No child should be deemed disgusting, especially by a public servant.”

That led the governor’s spokeswoman, Christian Pushaw, to tweet that the archbishop's characterization of DeSantis' position was a lie, and “lying is a sin.”

Guest: Ana Ceballos, state government reporter for the Miami Herald.

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Katherine Hobbs was Associate Producer of talk shows at WJCT until 2022.