Florida's voter fraud crackdown, and education is the focus of Charlie Crist's run for governor
On this week's Florida Roundup, we discuss how voting rights groups have been highly critical of Florida’s new state election investigation office, look ahead to the Artemis launch, and other topics.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is on the defensive this week about voter fraud charges brought by his administration. Even the Republican lawmaker who drafted legislation at the center of the debate says the charges are misplaced.
Several people who were arrested last week as part of the governor’s voter fraud crackdown had been notified by official government entities that they were eligible to vote, according to court documents and interviews. The defendants told authorities they had no intention of committing voter fraud, according to affidavits, and in some cases were baffled by their arrests because counties had even sent them voter registration cards and approved them to vote.
Meanwhile, voting rights groups have been highly critical of Florida’s new state election investigation office and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to arrest 20 people in the crackdown.
Guest: Matt Dixon, POLITICO.
Two U.S. House incumbents are vying to represent more than a dozen North Florida counties in Congress. Tallahassee Democrat Al Lawson and Panama City Republican Neal Dunn were placed in the same district after DeSantis signed into law a new congressional map that eliminated Lawson’s district, which was an African-American opportunity seat.
Guest: Valerie Crowder, WFSU.
Charlie Crist leaves office
This week, Charlie Crist announced he’s leaving Congress as the race for Florida governor heats up.
DeSantis faced the same decision of when to resign from Congress in 2018 when he was running for governor. Like Crist, he waited until after he got his party’s nomination in the gubernatorial race to step down from his congressional seat.
Crist has represented Florida’s 13th Congressional District, the St. Petersburg and Clearwater areas, since 2016. He continued to serve in Congress throughout his primary campaign against Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
Once Crist won that primary he picked his running mate, educator Karla Hernandez-Mats, who is the head of the teachers union in Miami-Dade County — a clear sign that he intends to put education at the center of his campaign to try to unseat DeSantis.
Guest: Andrew Spar, president, Florida Education Association.
Artemis 1 launch
NASA had to scrub its first attempt to launch its Space Launch System rocket Monday as part of the Artemis 1 mission to the moon but will attempt to give it another go tomorrow during a two-hour launch window, beginning at 2:17 pm.
Monday’s launch was called off after engineers encountered a temperature problem with one of the booster's core-stage engines as the rocket was being loaded with propellant.
Guest: Brendan Byrne, WMFE.
Pinellas County Section 8 housing
The Pinellas County Housing Authority has reopened its waiting list for Section 8 housing vouchers. These vouchers, meant for low-income tenants, can help cover a portion of an individual or family’s monthly rent. This is the first time in two years that the agency is accepting new applications.
Guest: McKenna Schueler, WMNF.
Attorney general race
The race for Florida attorney general is heating up after the primary election. Democratic nominee Aramis Ayala will face off against Ashley Moody.
Guest: Regan McCarthy, WFSU.
Broward County School Board members ousted
Earlier this week in Broward County, DeSantis removed four members of the county’s school board. He cited the findings and recommendations of a statewide grand jury launched after the 2018 Parkland shooting. The governor appointed new members to the board immediately.
Guest: Gerard Albert III, WLRN.
The Republican-majority board elected Torey Alston to the position of chair, with the longer-standing board members failing to elect Lori Alhadeff for that role 5-4. She was elected vice chair. For the next three months, the party will hold a majority.
Also this week in Surfside, the judge overseeing the Champlain Towers South litigation Monday awarded the law firms that represented the victims much less than what they asked for.
Guest: Veronica Zaragovia, WLRN.
Leon County races
The races for Tallahassee mayor and three Leon County Commission seats are still wide open after the primary election. For those candidates who are no longer in the running, the question may be whether to run again.
Guest: Margie Menzel, WFSU.
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