politics

Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing blowback from Democrats after he gave Fox's morning news show, Fox & Friends, exclusive access to his signing of a controversial elections bill Thursday morning.

Reporters say they weren't allowed into the signing, and they were told Fox News had an exclusive with DeSantis. Later in the day, during a different press conference in Panama City Beach, DeSantis elaborated on the choice:

Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed an elections overhaul that was one of the most-contentious issues of the 2021 legislative session, as opponents immediately filed a lawsuit alleging that the measure is unconstitutional.

Democratic state legislative leaders are speaking out against Gov. Ron DeSantis’s decision to lift local rules requiring mask-wearing and social distancing and a GOP-backed ban on businesses requiring vaccination proof.

After DeSantis declared local coronavirus-related restrictions "void," House Democratic Party caucus members blasted the decision during a call with reporters.

Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

More than a decade after walking away from the governor’s office, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist launched a campaign Tuesday to try to unseat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022.

Congressman Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, is expected to announce Tuesday that he's seeking to recapture his former seat in the governor's mansion.

Crist, who was a Republican until 2012, has scheduled a news conference Tuesday morning in his hometown of St. Petersburg.

if Crist runs, some things will work in his favor -- and others won't, said Zac Anderson, political editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature last week passed a bill that elections supervisors say will make it harder to vote.

SB90 passed the Florida Senate with a vote of 23-17 and the House, 77-40. Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it.

The president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections, Craig Latimer, in a statement called the bill "an unnecessary call for election reform."

Florida Republican Lawmakers Pass Elections Overhaul

Apr 30, 2021

With time running out before the end of this year’s legislative session, Florida lawmakers signed off Thursday night on a controversial elections bill that would make it harder for voters to cast ballots by mail.

Florida boasted a largely issue-free election last year. Democratic State Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, asks why fix what’s not broken?

“This bill, this amendment is a slap in the supervisors of elections faces, after an election that you say, we say, was one of the best we’ve had," Davis, a former deputy supervisor of elections for Duval County, said.

Florida will gain an additional member of Congress in the U.S. House of Representatives (pictured).
Bill Clark / Pool file photo via Associated Press

Florida will become an even more powerful player in national politics, based on the latest census reapportionment numbers.

News Service of Florida

With Democrats likening the measure to Jim Crow-era practices aimed at keeping Black people from voting, the state Senate has passed an elections package that would make it harder for Floridians to cast ballots by mail.

DeSantis, GOP Pile Up Political Cash

Apr 13, 2021
Gov. Ron DeSantis is off to a strong financial start for an expected reelection run.
News Service of Florida file photo

With a $5.14 million haul in March, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political committee raised more than $9 million in the first three months of 2021 as he prepares to run for reelection.

Florida lawmakers Wednesday passed a controversial bill to require Florida’s public universities to ask students and faculty to complete yearly surveys to identify political bias in college classrooms. It passed the Senate in a 23-15 vote and awaits the governor's signature.

The bill would also allow students to record their professors during lectures to show evidence of political bias.

The sponsor of the House version of the legislation, Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, said he has not spoken with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis but anticipates his support.

Assistant Chief Enters Race To Become Jacksonville's Next Sheriff

Apr 6, 2021
JSO Assistant Chief Lakesha Burton poses for a selfie with area Special Olympics athletes and law enforcement in this file photo.
Dan Scanlan / The Florida Times-Union

Resilience — that is what Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Assistant Chief Lakesha Burton says she has had since she was a child.

In this Dec. 17, 2019 file photo, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., speaks during a House Rules Committee hearing on the impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Democrat Alcee Hastings, who represented parts of South Florida in the U.S. House for nearly three decades, died Tuesday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

LYNNE SLADKY / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Civil rights groups have filed a new federal lawsuit against Georgia’s sweeping new election law that makes it harder for Georgians to vote, particularly voters of color and new citizens.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a controversial conservative and boisterous ally of former President Donald Trump, on Tuesday confirmed he is being investigated by the Department of Justice for sexual misconduct but denied the allegations tied to the probe.

News Service of Florida

Florida Republican lawmakers are pushing ahead with sweeping election changes largely focused on making it more difficult for people to vote by mail, an effort mirrored in GOP-led state houses throughout the country.

Former Florida Sen. Frank Artiles Charged In Sham Candidate Case

Mar 19, 2021

The Miami-Dade County state attorney has charged former Florida Sen. Frank Artiles with election fraud for allegedly propping up a sham candidate in a razor-thin Senate contest in which an incumbent Democrat was ousted by a Republican challenger in November.

Artiles is accused of using a third-party candidate to “confuse voters and siphon votes” from former Sen. Javier Jose Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat who wound up losing to Republican Ileana Garcia by 32 votes.

BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Proposed voting changes in Florida are causing alarm for some elections experts.

Voters line up to cast their ballots during early voting on Oct. 19, 2020 for the 2020 presidential election at the Southeast Regional Branch of the Jacksonville Public Library.
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Four months ago, Gov. Ron DeSantis bragged that other states should emulate voting procedures in Florida, where former President Donald Trump’s solid Election Day victory over President Joe Biden was done and dusted long before midnight.

Ferraro, right, announced his campaign for mayor Saturday.
Al Ferraro

Jacksonville District 2 City Councilman Al Ferraro announced Saturday he is running for mayor in 2023, an election that has already drawn historic infusions of cash as current Mayor Lenny Curry is termed out and the seat is wide open. 

Jacksonville City Councilman Al Ferraro Is Running For Mayor

Mar 15, 2021
David Bauerlein / The Florida Times-Union

Jacksonville City Council Al Ferraro member said Saturday he intends to run for mayor in 2023, telling supporters he will follow through on providing essential services to residents, focus on public safety and govern the same way he promises to do on the campaign trail.

Governor Ron DeSantis’s approach to COVID 19, and his legislative focus on conservative issues, have drawn national attention from the Republican party.

Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the conservative think tank the Ethics & Public Policy Center, wrote a column for the Washington Post about what DeSantis must do to break out onto the national political stage.

Vote Here sign
BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

The Municipal Super Tuesday Election for Keystone Heights and Orange Park is set for Tuesday, April 13.

TALLAHASSEE --- With backing from Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Florida Senate committee on Wednesday approved a wide-ranging proposal to revamp vote-by-mail laws, including banning the use of drop boxes and taking aim at a practice known as “ballot harvesting.”

The bill (SB 90) comes amid efforts in various parts of the country by Republicans to place new restrictions on voting by mail, after former President Donald Trump attacked the process during his unsuccessful re-election campaign last year. It also comes after Florida Democrats used vote-by-mail ballots heavily in November.

Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, says he’s protecting Floridians right to work and collectively bargain, but Democrats and labor unions don’t agree. Plakon's proposal requires union members to confirm with their employers that they want dues deducted from their paychecks.

"This is a union-busting bill,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith, D-Orlando.“It’s very overt. It’s very obvious.”

Plakon says his current bill is a response to unions pressuring people to sign up.

Duval County's House District 12 Race Starts Taking Shape

Mar 3, 2021
Via Jacksonville Daily Record

The first candidate has emerged to try to replace outgoing Jacksonville state Rep. Clay Yarborough in 2022.

Brooklyn Owen is a transgender activist from Jacksonville.
Brooklyn Owen

The 2021 Florida Legislative Session is just getting underway, but candidates for state senate are already beginning to plan for the next election in 2022. The first candidate to file for District 6, which includes Jacksonville, is 20-year-old Brooklyn Owen, who is transgender. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures as he speaks to the media at a coronavirus vaccination site at Lakewood Ranch Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Bradenton.
CHRIS O'MEARA / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A new Mason-Dixon poll released Tuesday finds a majority of Florida voters approve of the job Gov. Ron  DeSantis is doing.

TALLAHASSEE --- The Florida Senate has long been considered the saucer that cools the hot tea, a metaphor purportedly coined by George Washington to describe the U.S. Senate’s tempering influence on the more hot-headed --- and numerous --- House of Representatives.

The Florida Senate has steadily crept away from the political center since Republicans secured a majority in both legislative chambers and cemented a hold on the governor’s mansion more than two decades ago.

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