DeSantis blasts Hernandez-Mats as Crist’s running mate

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came out swinging on Tuesday morning.

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came out swinging on Tuesday morning.

He attacked Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Crist’s running mate Karla Hernandez-Mats, accusing her of shielding an accused child predator.

“I think that’s disqualifying to be in any political office, much less the lieutenant governor of the State of Florida,” DeSantis said Tuesday at an event in Fort Pierce. “They had one of their top henchmen in the union, down in Miami, who was a middle school teacher.”

DeSantis went after Hernandez-Mats for her relationship with Wendell Nibbs, a former teacher at Brownsville Middle School.

Nibbs was an active member of the Miami-Dade Teachers Union, where Hernandez-Mats was president.

He later pled guilty to sexual activity with a child.

“He was sexually abusing middle school students for years,” DeSantis said.

Former Broward County Democratic Party President Mitch Ceaser spoke about the issue on Tuesday.

“Well, obviously this is someone who no one would admire, but we have to remember that this is an organization off tens and tens of thousands of people, who are members of just of the…how does it relate to the lieutenant governor nominee? Not at all,” he said.

Caeser went on to call Hernandez-Mats an ideal pick for Crist’s nominee.

“I think it was imperative to have a female to balance the ticket,” he said. “She’s from South Florida, he’s from Central Florida. She’s head of (the) teacher’s union. Head of the educational teachers union.”

The Crist campaign sent Local 10 News a statement in response to DeSantis’ comments, which read:

“It’s a lie. And to top it off, it’s coming from a governor whose own campaign was led by accused child sexual predator Matt Gaetz, and whose disgusting actions DeSantis still refuses to condemn. While Ron DeSantis shields sexual predators in his own party, Karla Hernández is a former special needs teacher who has devoted her life to serving the people of her community.”

About the Author:

Cody Weddle joined Local 10 News as a full-time reporter in South Florida in August of 2022. Before that, Cody worked regularly with Local 10 since January of 2017 as a foreign correspondent in Venezuela and Colombia.