Gwen Graham, the former congresswoman and Democratic candidate for governor, unloaded on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Twitter Monday, decrying the Republican’s policies on the environment, schools, gay rights and more, and attributing his popularity to “puppeteers.”
“People don’t change. Unless the @GovRonDeSantis that I knew in Congress suddenly became an engaged political tactician, the decisions of the DeSantis administration are being made by a team of advisors including his wife. She is sharp,” Graham began a Twitter thread.
First Lady Casey DeSantis is a former television host.
“I call this group the puppeteers. I give them full credit for the ‘bait-and-switch’ approach DeSantis has managed to implement since his election. As a result, even people that I know should know better, have the perception that DeSantis ‘isn’t as bad as I thought he would be.’”
So, to those who say, “He isn’t as bad as I thought he would be.” I say, “Congrats to the DeSantis’ puppeteers.” And, to anyone who cares about Florida and her future, stop taking their bait.
What the Governor has done is far worse than bad. Tragically a lot of time to go.
— Gwen Graham (@GwenGraham) August 12, 2019
Asked whether the governor’s office had any response, Communications Director Helen Aguirre Ferré said, simply: “Nope.”
Graham represented Florida’s Second Congressional District in North Florida between 2015 and 2017 and ran in last year’s Democratic primary for governor, losing to Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, whom DeSantis defeated in November. DeSantis is a Harvard-educated lawyer who represented the Ninth Congressional District in Northeast Florida between 2013 and 2018.
As of June, DeSantis had a 55 percent approval rating in a Quinnipiac poll, with 83 percent of Republicans approving and 51 percent approval among Democrats.
Graham denounced DeSantis for signing a bill requiring felons to pay all fees, fines and reparations before they can become eligible to vote under last year’s Amendment 4, and for promoting “the for-profit education industry in Florida.” Republican former House Speaker Richard Corcoran, DeSantis’ pick for commissioner of education, she wrote, “hates public education.”
“If he actually cared about our environment, he would have vetoed the toll road to nowhere. (The plastic straw veto was the ‘bait’ on that one)” — a reference to Graham’s “bait-and-switch” remark. The toll road law would plant multi-lane corridors across some of the last undeveloped area of Florida; the governor cited local prerogatives in killing the putative ban on local ordinances banning single-use plastic straws.
Graham decried the governor’s failure to include LGBT protections in an anti-discrimination order for government employees. “A ‘bait’ trip to the Pulse nightclub without action is just what it is — a photo op and nothing more.” She also complained about legislation DeSantis signed arming classroom teachers under some circumstances.
‘If DeSantis wanted to prove that he wasn’t a Lil’ Trump, he would not have supported the unnecessary bill banning sanctuary cities. In a state as diverse as Florida, the Gov sent the message that he is okay with stoking fear, hatred and divisiveness. Just like @realDonaldTrump, Graham wrote.
“So, to those who say, ‘He isn’t as bad as I thought he would be,’ I say, ‘Congrats to the DeSantis’ puppeteers.’ And, to anyone who cares about Florida and her future, stop taking their bait. What the governor has done is far worse than bad. Tragically, a lot of time to go.”