HIALEAH, Fla. – Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate running to replace Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, played a political wild card Saturday in Hialeah.
He named Karla Hernandez-Mats his running mate for Lieutenant Governor in the November general election.
She is a teacher from Hialeah Middle School.
“That these opportunities could be offered to me, a middle school teacher,” she exclaimed.
Although she’s never held public office, Hernandez-Mats is no stranger to Florida politics, having served as the President of the United Teachers of Dade union since 2016.
“Are you tired of the culture wars and the extremists that are dictating what we can and cannot say and do,” she asked.
By nominating a teacher, Crist made clear that he plans to take the fight to DeSantis on education policy.
And on Saturday, a clue about how the GOP and DeSantis may go after Crist’s new running mate came in the form of an electronic billboard displayed outside the event.
Featuring a hammer and sickle, Hernandez-Mats and a tweet she posted in 2019 coming after the death of Fidel Castro. It read: “A political figure dies at 80. Most in Miami rejoice, many in Cuba mourn.”
Another likely line of attack is Hernandez-Mats’ relationship to Wendell Nibbs, a Miami-Dade teacher who rose in the ranks of the union despite allegations of sexual misconduct.
He later pled guilty to sexual activity with a child.
“GOP, (which) is a proud Matt Gaetz supporter, is actually talking to me, or questioning something that I had nothing to do with, when they are the Matt Gaetz party,” she said.