‘Dictator Wannabe’ Governor Ronald DeSantis Upended

By Pat Bryant, Southern Correspondent

 

Secretary of State Laurel Lee

Just when Black and Democratic lawmakers were speaking out and fighting back, coalescing with democratic forces outside the legislature, Governor DeSantis caved.  We think DeSantis’ fear motivated his abrupt change to have Secretary of State Laurel Lee seat newly elected Daryl Campbell of Broward County.

Lee, a DeSantis appointee, said last week, Representative Campbell would not be certified to participate in legislative activities until March, a few days before the House of Representatives adjourned. This would have left District 94, mostly Black and Democratic, without a functioning legislator for the session. DeSantis is the Republican governor who wants to be elected dictator of the United States in 2024 if he can win re-election as Governor on November eighth this year. It seems that ‘Dictator Wannabe’ DeSantis does not want a fight that will fuse legislators, Republicans and Democrats, and Florida courts against his authoritarian aims. The youthful Campbell and his allies made the rounds and legislators questioned the fairness of Lee and DeSantis’ actions.

Florida’s constitution separates the powers of the legislature, courts, and governor. The Secretary of State’s certifying elections is ceremonial. When voters cast their votes in a special election, Rep. Campbell was elected, and the only challenge to his election could have been his fitness to serve, a dispute only determined in the courts. When Broward County Supervisor Joe Scott certified that Campbell had won the election with 40 percent of the votes cast and Scott communicated the win to the Secretary of State the deal was done. Campbell was elected.

Dictator wannabes grab power. They grab power until another force stops them. That was exactly what the legislature did when DeSantis tried to present his re-districting plan that would have shorted two Black and Democratic legislative seats. The seats are apportioned by the legislature considering state population census every 10 years. The process is that the legislature decides the redistricting plan. The governor signs a bill, or doesn’t. And courts settle any disputes that may arise.  The governor does not draw up his plan and shove it down legislators’ throats. DeSantis does not have that power.

Daryl Campbell

DeSantis’ power grab to not seat Rep. Campbell was certain to land in federal court. When an official has a duty to do a certain thing without discretion, and the official doesn’t perform that duty, the official is open to a writ of mandamus being filed and upheld by the courts. The only question in Campbell’s seating would have been: does the secretary of state have discretion not to certify duly cast votes for a candidate? The answer is no. There is a constitutional mandate.

In a related matter, Representative Ramon Alexander’s anguish over racist and authoritarian ‘anti-woke’ measures that DeSantis’ Republican allies pushed from a House committee to the House floor. A bill to put cameras inside classrooms to monitor what teachers teach about racist history drew the ire of Alexander, one of Florida’s prominent Black legislators. Since public reaction to the murder of George Floyd, the Minnesota Black man murdered by a White cop kneeling 9 minutes on his neck, and Democrats winning 50 seats in the U.S. Senate, Florida’s Governor and legislature have been working non-stop to put Blacks and progressives back into places of subserviency. That has risen the ire of Representative Ramon Alexander. Heading up a long list of legislative put-backs are: making it easier to charge any person in a demonstration with a crime committed by any other person in the demonstration; restriction of voting by mail and other anti-ballot measures; and the Republican Party downplaying of the whitewashing of the January 6, 2021 violent insurrection aimed at keeping Donald Trump president after he lost the election; and teaching truth about history in public schools.

“I don’t want to do this, but I don’t think you can handle the truth. I don’t like having conversations like this. It eats me up on the inside because I know there are some admirable, good people over there (Republicans)”, Representative Alexander said.

“I am an American, and my voice matters just as much as your voice. My opinion matters just as much as your opinion. My reality matters just as much as your reality,” Alexander continued.

The committee chair tried to cut Alexander off, but he continued to speak about the Republican’s racism for eight minutes. Republicans passed the measure over Democratic opposition.

Alexander interviewed after his passionate speech told the Washington Post, “I ran for the Florida legislature to deal with real issues, and to have a seat at the table to address them in a reasonable way…I think a lot of my frustrations have built up over the years where it’s not about addressing those issues and improving quality of life, it’s about campaign rhetoric and feeding false narratives to a (Republican) base that continues to divide our country”. Alexander represents Gadsden and part of Leon County in Florida’s panhandle.

It is Alexander’s passion and the actions of a passionate electorate that will stop DeSantis’ relentless power grab by firing up age old racial divisions.

About Carma Henry 21268 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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