MIAMI — In selecting the pinnacle of the most important academics union within the Southeast as his operating mate, Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee for Florida governor, mentioned he discovered a companion to embody the caring and empathy that he argues Gov. Ron DeSantis sorely lacks.
Mr. Crist named Karla Hernández-Mats, the president of the United Academics of Dade, as his lieutenant governor choose on Saturday, casting the previous center college particular training science trainer — who’s unknown to the overwhelming majority of Florida voters — as a passionate father or mother and advocate prepared to manipulate at his facet, regardless of her lack of expertise in elective workplace.
Ms. Hernández-Mats has “a superb coronary heart,” Mr. Crist mentioned in a quick interview, the primary after making his resolution. “That strikes me greater than something, at all times.”
The daughter of Honduran immigrants, Ms. Hernández-Mats taught for a decade in Hialeah, a working class, closely Cuban American and closely Republican metropolis northwest of Miami. In 2010, she was named Florida’s trainer of the 12 months. Her mom was a secretary, she mentioned, and her father a farmworker who reduce sugar cane and picked tomatoes till he landed a union job as a carpenter.
“It epitomizes the American dream,” Ms. Hernández-Mats mentioned of her life in a separate interview, her first since changing into Mr. Crist’s operating mate.
Mr. Crist mentioned he would proceed to emphasise how unaffordable the state has grow to be below Mr. DeSantis and the way the governor has restricted folks’s rights, together with by opposing abortion, which is now unlawful in Florida after 15 weeks of being pregnant.
However in deciding on a academics union chief, Mr. Crist has ensured, for higher or worse, that the governor’s race will stay centered not less than partially on issues of training, a subject that Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, has seized as an electoral power within the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. DeSantis, who gained a nationwide following for bucking public well being consultants and reopening Florida companies and faculties prior to different states, has made “dad and mom’ rights” a centerpiece of his message. He has waged cultural battles in opposition to the educating of gender id and racism in faculties. And he campaigned for 30 college board candidates, nearly all of whom received or made it into runoffs in Tuesday’s major election. Two of the winners have been in Miami-Dade County.
The Republican Celebration of Florida wasted no time in criticizing Mr. Crist’s choose, saying earlier than the marketing campaign formally named Ms. Hernández-Mats that she represented “one other slap within the face to Florida’s dad and mom.”
“It confirms how out of contact Crist is with Florida households,” the get together mentioned in an announcement on Friday.
Mr. Crist dismissed the notion that voters would agree with the criticism that sharing the ticket with a trainer would put him in opposition to oldsters.
“I imagine that folks being concerned is extremely vital, and academics must also be revered for his or her experience,” he mentioned. “They’re not mutually unique.”
Democrats argued that Ms. Hernández-Mats might relate to voters as a working mom who understands the challenges inside lecture rooms. And, as a Spanish speaker, she will attain Hispanic voters whom the get together has struggled to win.
“Hispanic voters are clearly immensely vital to constructing a successful coalition for Democrats,” mentioned Christian Ulvert, a Democratic political advisor in Miami who’s Nicaraguan American. “One of the best ways to go toe-to-toe is in case you have somebody in the neighborhood to combat again.”
Within the interview, the energetic Ms. Hernández-Mats appeared keen to meet a operating mate’s frequent function in attacking the opposing candidate.
“The state is stripping away freedoms,” she mentioned. “Governor DeSantis doesn’t need girls to decide on or have autonomy over their our bodies or well being care. They take away one freedom after which they take away extra freedom.”
“Only a few months in the past, folks have been like, ‘Academics are superb!’” she added, recalling how academics have been praised for educating on-line early within the pandemic. “And now we now have a governor that assaults academics and public training. To what finish? That is what dictators do.”