By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist on Saturday formally announced Karla Hernandez, the teachers union president in Florida’s largest school district, as his running mate in the November election.
Crist described the Miami native and daughter of Honduran immigrants as “caring, loving, empathetic, compassionate.”
“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 while at Hialeah Middle School, where Hernandez spent a decade teaching special-needs students.
After asking supporters if they are “tired of the culture wars and the extremists that are dictating what we can say and do,” Hernandez said, “everything is on the ballot this November.”
“If you care about freedoms, and you care about women’s freedom to choose to have autonomy over their body, I need you to vote,” Hernandez said. “If you care about protecting people’s freedoms and making sure that they have access to vote, I need you to take a friend to go out and vote. We are here because also on the ballot is our opportunity to bring sunshine back into the state.”
While abortion was a key issue in the Democratic primary campaign, the selection of Hernandez ensures education will remain a top topic as Democrats try to defeat Gov. Ron DeSantis in the general election. The Republican incumbent also has made education issues a priority, including taking the unusual step this year of helping elect county school-board candidates who share his conservative positions.
Hernandez, 42, has been president of the United Teachers of Dade since 2016 but has never held public office.
Republicans quickly went after Hernandez, whose selection was first reported Friday by CBS Miami reporter Jim DeFede.
The Republican National Committee called Hernandez “the perfect fit for lockdown lover Crist’s unpopular, anti-parents campaign.” DeSantis’ campaign tweeted Saturday that Crist’s choice is a “sympathizer” of the Castro regime in Cuba.
The Republican Party of Florida on Friday night called Hernandez an “extremist” and “a slap in the face to Florida parents.” It also took aim at her over COVID-19 issues, saying she supported “school closures, forced masking and, if given the opportunity, would allow the indoctrination of Florida students.”
The state GOP also pointed to wins in Tuesday’s primaries by two DeSantis-backed candidates for the Miami-Dade County School Board, Monica Colucci and Roberto Alonso. Among 30 candidates who DeSantis endorsed across the state, 19 won races outright and six advanced to the November general election.
“(Hernandez) must be puzzled that Charlie chose her given that she, as president of the Miami-Dade teachers union, delivered a big defeat to Democrats right in her own backyard of Miami-Dade County, where candidates endorsed by Gov. DeSantis flipped the school board to prioritize students and parents,” the state GOP said.
Teachers unions have long been a key backer of Florida Democrats in gubernatorial elections and other races. The Florida Education Association statewide union endorsed Crist before he defeated state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in Tuesday’s primary.
The FEA said in a news release that Crist’s selection of Hernandez shows he “values Florida’s students and respects our educators.”
“Karla Hernandez will be a great lieutenant governor for all the people of Florida,” FEA President Andrew Spar said in a prepared statement. “She’s a mom with two kids in our public schools, a teacher focused on students with special needs, and cares deeply about children, families and communities.”
The candidates and parties have a gulf of differences on education issues, including more than two decades of battles about vouchers and school choice.
DeSantis has fought school boards that he’s accused of not respecting parental rights on issues such as mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and the contents of books. He and the Republican-controlled Legislature also, for example, have restricted what can be taught in schools about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Democrats have countered that classroom instruction has suffered as Republicans made schools political battlegrounds.
If Crist, a St. Petersburg congressman, defeats DeSantis in November, Hernandez would become Florida’s second Hispanic female lieutenant governor. The first is current Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, a former Miami-Dade legislator who was elected with DeSantis in 2018.
Hernandez was on a list of 18 potential running mates floated by the Crist campaign in June. The majority of the people on the list were elected officials. When Crist unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014 against then-Gov. Rick Scott, his running mate was a Hispanic woman from Miami-Dade, now-state Sen. Annette Taddeo.
Hernandez credited her father with teaching her the importance of labor advocacy as he took jobs on farms in South Florida after immigrating from Honduras, where he had been an accountant.
“Every day he would travel to the Everglades to cut sugarcane and pick tomatoes,” Hernandez said. “Later, he became a carpenter. A skilled laborer. And a proud union member. You see, my mom and dad taught me the value of hard work and the opportunity that it brings. He worked hard his whole life and taught me to do the same. And I follow his example, it’s called the American dream.”
Hernandez attended Miami-Dade public schools before earning a bachelor’s degree at Florida International University and a master’s degree in business administration from St. Thomas University.
Hernandez described the goals of teaching as a microcosm of the community.
“That’s the beauty of public education,” Hernandez said. “Every teacher and every student in our classroom comes from the community. So, we have kids that are children of electrical workers, bus drivers sitting next to children of parents who are lawyers or engineers.”
I think it’s a wonderful combination and will provide an excellent result for Florida!
It’s a can’t-win duo, and Charlie’s already resigned his current position, leaving it open to someone that might actually care for the things that we do.
For the first time in my life I’ll say, “Great Job, Charlie”!!!!!!
Bush and Cheney ran in 2000 on the same ticket and both were residents of Texas.
All Cheney did was change his voting address to Wyoming and bought a house there.
There’s all sorts of ways to ‘Never say never’
DeSantis needs to stay our Governor for the next 4 Years then run for President in 2028.
There won’t be a DeSantis Trump ticket. I believe it will be Trump in 2024.
DeSantis has the character that he will follow the governorship through to the end of his term. Even Democrats are tired of the liberal nonsense and are changing their registration to Republican… enmasse.
Charlie Crist appears to be running for Prom King instead of governor and is a three-time loser, a flip flopper, etc., so any relatively sane person can make the deduction that DeSantis will win.
Your right, there is no law that can be from the same state, but the 12 amendment requires electors to vote for the president and VP, of which one cannot be from their home state. So if both are from Florida the electors cannot vote for one of them. Given Florida has the third most electoral votes it would be an unwise thing to do because it could affect the outcome of the election.
That’s not true. That keeps getting spread like it’s fact but it isn’t. You may want to dig a little deeper before spreading a talking point of the Marxists.
Neither of those tickets can happen, President and VP can’t be from the same state.
Its going to be the Trump-Desantis tickit in ’24.
Its going to be the Desantis-Bondy (Pam) tickit in ’28.
This shows me that Chuck either isn’t paying attention, or Dementia is starting to set in on him like it has his buddy Joe. The enrollment numbers for the Public Indoctrination System are dropping faster than Chuck’s beard dropped him after his Senate loss. This identity politics pick may get him some union money, but the vast majority of people in Florida – and the country for that matter – are strongly against the Groomer and Pedo infestation of our schools and classrooms.
I don’t think it matters who he would pick, Chuck has no shot at winning.
I think Ron will pass on running for president in 24. He will let our country hit rock bottom so that way he is a shoo-in for 28. Sucks for us, smart for him politically and professionally.
“”Crist described the Miami native and daughter of Honduran immigrants as “caring, loving, empathetic, compassionate.”
“That’s what we don’t have in the governor’s office right now.””
WOW, if you really think that we don’t have those things in the Governor’s Office right now then, I REALLY don’t want to know what you think “caring, loving, empathetic, compassionate” is.
Other States are looking at Florida and are wanting to do the same. I have never heard of a Florida Governor being talked about in so much Positive ways as OUR Governor, Ron DeSantis is.
You sound like you are going to undo every great thing DeSantis has done and destroy our State out of Spite and Hate just like Biden and the Democrats are doing because they hate Trump.
When I watch Biden and Crist speak I see their hatred of Christians and Conservatives. The democrat party is immoral and the party of Satan. I’m all for “live and let live” but when the major plank of their party is teaching kindergarten kids about homosexuality, they lose my vote. Do Florida residents really want all the problems big liberal cities have? No. No one does. Crist will be a disaster and will consume the state in immortality. I don’t know Lena but she should be careful what she asks for. Crist and especially his running mate are wrong for Florida and the Country.
Charlie, in his dementia, selects the President of the Groomers Union as his running mate!!
HA HA Charlie that $#!+ wont fly in Florida.
Son you just lost the Independents, the Hispanics, and all Black parents in Florida.
For all intents and purposes the Govorner’s election is basically over already.
Stick a fork in Charlie. He’s done.
Go ahead and ride it out Charlie your next position will be the CEO of Charlie Crist’s long overdue retirement from political office.
To Charlie’s credit, on his way out, at least he did not attempt to bring back Andrew Gillum as his running mate.
Is Charlie Crist trying to lose?
Looking forward to sanity back in the governor’s office again!
Vote Charlie in this November!