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Crist names teachers union chief as running mate

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fl.) on Saturday named teachers’ union chief Karla Hernández-Matz as his running mate in his bid to unseat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in November.

“Meet the next lieutenant governor of Florida,” Crist said at a rally Sunday, announcing the addition of Hernández-Matz to the Democratic ticket.

Hernández-Matz is president of the United Teachers of Dade, a union representing some 30,000 employees of the Miami-Dade County School System. Crist called her a “caring, loving, empathetic, compassionate” running mate who would help him “touch all of Florida.”

“That’s what we don’t have in the governor’s office right now. And that’s what you deserve to have in the governor’s office,” Crist said.

DeSantis has been a leading GOP voice in national culture wars, and polls as the strongest potential competition to former President Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

“Are you sick of politicians who act like authoritarians trying to tear apart our democracy?” Hernández-Matz said in a speech following Crist’s announcement. “Well I am, and that’s why we are here today. To defeat Ron DeSantis and bring decency and respect back to the state of Florida.”

Crist, who once held the state’s governor seat as a Republican and is on his second bid to reclaim the office as a Democrat, has focused on abortion in his campaign and promised to sign an executive order to protect abortion in Florida if he wins.

Despite DeSantis leading Crist in fundraising and some polls, the lawmaker described Florida as “imminently winnable” for Democrats and argued DeSantis is preoccupied with a potential presidential bid.

“When you look at Florida today it’s about a third registered Republican, about a third registered Democratic, and about a third registered independent. That’s really the definition of a swing state. So I think our chances are very good,” Crist said Sunday on CNN’s “Newsroom.”

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This story was originally published August 28, 2022 9:25 PM.

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