What Happened In Florida Is A Warning

What Happened In Florida Is A Warning

There’s no sugarcoating it. While we were bracing for a potentially tough night in Florida, watching the results come in was difficult.

One of the most heartbreaking losses was that of State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith who was running for reelection. Carlos has been a fierce champion of equality and defender of our families for 6 years. At a time when DeSantis and Republicans have made anti-LGBTQ attacks their playbook, his absence in Tallahassee will be greatly felt.

DeSantis built a massive campaign war chest by lighting culture war fires here and fundraising to a national right-wing base. Now that he and Trump are openly battling for the GOP presidential nomination, we expect DeSantis to continue his censorship, surveillance, and discrimination agenda with our basic rights in his crosshairs.

But in these moments it’s important to remind our community that backlash always follows great progress and while things have gotten worse, history shows us that we will win as long as we do not back down.

In fact, our biggest breakthroughs have always arrived on the other side of our toughest challenges.

Florida is a unique convergence of forces — we’ve had two and half decades of Republican control, gerrymandering, the corruption of state agencies to service the Republican electoral agenda, and two frontrunners for the presidency tapping into national fundraising. This not only allowed DeSantis to shatter gubernatorial fundraising records but also smother Democratic candidates in races down the ballot.

What's happening in Florida is not simply an outlier — it's a cautionary indicator to the rest of the country. It's a flashing warning light of the Republican agenda that they seek to impose state by state and nationwide — an agenda of censorship and surveillance, voter suppression, and anti-LGBTQ attacks. This is a national call to action to stop the DeSantis agenda now.

We will continue to raise the alarm because DeSantis isn't just a Florida problem. He's a national problem. And if he wins the presidency, he'll be a global problem.

Those of us on the frontline in Florida showed up to work after election night to keep fighting back. But this is a coast-to-coast fight to stop two Floridians: Trump and his usurper who have their eyes on the White House and calamity for our country.

But even in the shadow of DeSantis’s win and some painful losses, we have hope: The resistance in Florida scored some critically important wins.

  • Openly LGBTQ champions — State Senator Shevrin Jones and State Representative Michele Rayner — won re-election this cycle and are heading back to Tallahassee to help protect and defend our rights.
  • Voters elected the first openly bisexual Florida State Representative, Rita Harris from Orlando.
  • The only sitting Democrat to vote in favor of the Don’t Say LGBTQ and Transgender Youth Sports Ban laws was officially replaced by a pro-equality candidate.
  • Candidate for Florida’s 10th Congressional District, Maxwell Frost, has been elected the first Gen Z member of Congress.
  • We flipped school boards in Flagler, Osceola, and Seminole to pro-equality majorities, helping to ensure every student is protected and every family is respected.
  • Voters also elected Orange County’s youngest, first openly LGBTQ, and only Latina school board member, Maria Salamanca.

And while a red wave washed over Florida — that wasn’t the case for the rest of the country. Voters rejected Trump-endorsed candidates in several races, bringing a rainbow wave, historic firsts, and important victories — including:

  • More LGBTQ people have been elected to Congress than ever before. At least 10 openly-LGBTQ candidates won their election to the U.S. House of Representatives - a record.
  • The nation's first two openly lesbian governors were elected in Massachusetts, Maura Healey, and Oregon, Tina Kotek.
  • New Hampshire elected the first openly transgender man to a U.S. state legislature, James Roesener.
  • Maryland elected their first Black governor, Wes Moore - defeating a Trump-endorsed extremist.
  • In U.S. Senate races, John Fetterman won his election in Pennsylvania against a Trump-backed extremist. And in Georgia, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock is headed into a critical run-off in December to help hold a pro-equality majority in the U.S. Senate.

During this election cycle, Equality Florida Action PAC was able to:

  • Launch 5 new TV ads spotlighting DeSantis’s extremism and telling the world how dangerous he is.
  • Launch over 70 digital ads in support of pro-equality candidates that garnered over 3 million impressions.
  • Send nearly 500,000 text messages, make over 150,000 phone calls, and knock on over 3,000 doors to get out the pro-equality vote.
  • Complete 65 days of actions for pro-equality candidates across the state with more than 206 Equality Florida Action PAC volunteers.

We know that our fight for equality will only intensify as DeSantis works to propel his election results into a GOP presidential nomination in 2024. But know that the resistance to right-wing bigotry and extremism is alive and well.

We have given the nation a look at DeSantis’s extremism and anti-LGBTQ agenda. Now, it’s up to us to continue raising the alarm — because DeSantis is not just a danger to our state. He’s a danger to our country.




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