Florida Leaders Warn Pennsylvania Voters About DeSantis’ Ambitions Ahead Of His Harrisburg Visit

FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses attendees during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit, Friday, July 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

By Isabel Soisson

March 31, 2023

When Pa. State Senator Doug Mastriano set out to claim the governorship in Pennsylvania last year, he vowed to make Pennsylvania the “Florida of the North,” something that attendees of today’s press conference pushed back against and said could happen if DeSantis is elected president.

Florida elected officials warned Pennsylvania voters about the kind of state Gov. Ron DeSantis has created back home ahead of his visit to a conservative conference in Harrisburg this weekend. And Pennsylvania leaders reiterated their resolve to keep the state from becoming the “Florida of the North,” during a virtual press conference Friday morning.

Although DeSantis hasn’t officially announced his 2024 presidential run just yet, local publications are calling this visit a “campaign stop,” and House Republicans such as Texas Rep. Chip Roy have already started endorsing him.

When Pa. State Senator Doug Mastriano set out to claim the governorship in Pennsylvania last year, he vowed to make Pennsylvania the “Florida of the North,” something that attendees of today’s press conference pushed back against and said could happen if DeSantis is elected president.

Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Moira Kaleida, Director of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, and former Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty all spoke about the “positive direction” already being taken in the state education-wise, and how Pennsylvania voters “roundly rejected the DeSantis blueprint last fall.”

“We are fighting the injustices we see, and we are supporting our teachers, we are supporting our students, and we are not going to let policies that harm children be part of Pennsylvania’s legacy,” Kaleida said.

Many pointed to DeSantis’ track record of using divisive political wedge issues to target Floridians.

“When all you can offer as a political leader is a list of people to hate, a bevy of things that we should ban, and then a marginalized group that we should blame for all the things wrong in the world, you do that because you don’t have serious solutions to address the things that people are actually worried about,” Democratic Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta said.

“We have families who are desperate to know that their kid is going to get a quality education, and that we’re not going to use our classrooms as political battlefields to push an agenda, but we’re going to do what our schools actually need as elected officials,” he went on.

Florida State Senator Shevrin Jones and State Representative Anna V. Eskamani spoke about DeSantis’ extremist views on abortion and reproductive policy.

“Despite Floridians overwhelmingly supporting access to safe, legal abortion…we see Gov. Ron DeSantis not only banning abortion at 15 weeks last year, but now supporting a six-week abortion ban,” Democratic Florida State Representative Anna V. Eskamani said.

The six-week ban in Florida received “overwhelming support” from the state House committee earlier in March, and Democrats acknowledged that there was “nothing they could do” to stop it.

According to the Pa. Leadership Conference’s website, DeSantis is among the eight featured speakers at this weekend’s event. Kellyanne Conway, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, will be the featured speaker at the conference, as well. Others scheduled to appear are Fox News contributor Guy Benson, and Pennsylvania State Senator Jarrett Coleman.

Author

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

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