PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Charlie Crist’s pick to join him on the ticket as lieutenant governor made the rounds Wednesday on the campaign trail.
Karla Hernandez-Mats, in addition to speaking with potential voters, had some pretty sharp words for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to his comments earlier this week.
“I am homegrown, I’m from the community, and I think that’s exactly what people want,” she said.
It also seems on the campaign trail that she is dropping the Mats from her last name.
In fact, on the morning of Aug. 27, her twitter account was still @karlamats, but by mid-day she had changed it to @karlaforflorida.
Then at 6:25 p.m. she tweeted out, “I’m Karla Hernandez, your Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Florida” and hasn’t used Mats since.
She said that was more about logistics than leaning into her Latin heritage.
“I was born Karla Hernandez, then I got married, and my last name is hyphenated Mats, but it’s really just because it’s otherwise that it turns into a really long poster, Hernandez-Mats,” she said.
The announcement of Hernandez-Mats as Crist’s choice drew quick criticism from DeSantis earlier this week, who brought up her relationship with Wendell Nibbs, a middle school teacher and active member of the teachers union who ended up pleading guilty to sexual activity with a child.
“He was sexually abusing middle school students for years,” DeSantis said during an appearance earlier this week.
Local 10 News asked Hernandez-Mats about her relationship with Nibbs and she said she wasn’t close with him, and called what he did “horrific, evil and vile.”
She also had some words for the governor.
“What’s amusing and a little bit laughable about this whole situation is we have DeSantis who embraces Matt Gaetz, who has pictures with him, was part of his transition, has still not denounced his actions because he is a child molester, he is a pedophile,” said Hernandez-Mats. “He wants to sit here and attack me, a teacher, a school teacher that has dedicated her entire life to special ed kids. I tell the whole Matt Gaetz party to take a seat.”
Gaetz is under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking, which he denies.
It’s also worth pointing out Hernandez-Mats’ old Twitter handle, @karlamats, was snatched up by trolls right after she changed her handle and was turned into a parody account.