Florida Progressive Representative Maxwell Frost, 26, has lashed out at Governor Ron DeSantis for his policies that disproportionately target black and LGBTQ people.
Frost, whose district includes the western half of Orlando where Walt Disney World sits, told CNN Sunday that DeSantis, a potential presidential candidate for 2024, is not trying to improve education but “scapegoats vulnerable communities for his failures.”
It comes as Florida’s legislature, which has a Republican supermajority, returns to session for two months this week. During that time, GOP legislators plan to pass a host of bills targeting education — legislation that freshman legislators claim is fascist.
Part of this legislature’s expanded agenda is to extend the ban on teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity to grades 7 and 8, when an earlier version of the law topped out in grade 6. Critics call the law “Parental rights in education’ the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
Another bill targeting education would ban gender studies and diversity programs at state-funded Florida universities.
The legislature is also considering a bill that would require teachers to use students’ pronouns for the gender they were born in and ban the use of preferred pronouns from kindergarten through 12th grade. This bill is now being referred to by opponents as the “Don’t Say They” bill.
“This is what we’re dealing with in Florida right now, and it’s hard to keep up with because it seems like there’s a new victim — there’s a new bill every day,” Frost told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Sunday.
“But we have to call it what it is – he is abusing his power and using the state to attack political opponents and political enemies,” the first Gen Z legislator claimed. “And there’s a word for that, and that’s fascism, and we have to be honest about that.”
Elected in the 2022 midterm elections, Frost represents a rare Democratic blue oasis in a sea of red in Florida. Of Florida’s 28 counties, only eight are represented by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are also Republicans.
Florida’s legislature is also controlled by a Republican supermajority in both the House and Senate, meaning they can likely pass almost any legislation proposed on the right side of the aisle.
In the State House, there are 84 Republicans and 35 Democrats; in the Senate there are 28 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
Frost’s comments on Sunday come as DeSantis is widely seen as the leading contender against former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican primary. DeSantis has not yet announced a run, but has begun touring the country in a pre-announcement book tour.
“It’s just a problem for Florida now, for sure,” Frost said in his CNN interview when talking about DeSantis. “But in a few years it could be a problem for the nation.”
Progressive Representative Maxwell Frost called Governor Ron DeSantis a “fascist” for imposing laws he says target black and LGBTQ people under the guise of better education
The Florida legislature meets this week and will consider a slew of bills targeting education and other conservative agenda items. Pictured: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Ronald Reagan Library in Southern California on Sunday, March 5
DeSantis vowed at his inauguration in January (pictured) that he would take on “awake” educational institutions and “awake” corporations. He is widely seen as the frontrunner to become the GOP nominee in 2024, even though he has not yet announced his candidacy.
DeSantis was in Texas this weekend and at the Ronald Reagan Library in Southern California on Sunday. He will deliver his State of the State address to the Florida legislature on Wednesday.
He will then make a stop in Alabama on Thursday and an early stop in the Iowa state primary on Friday for the first time since becoming a potential 2024 contender.
Over the weekend, he will then spend time in Nevada, a critical swing and early caucus state. He will go to New Hampshire’s first state primary later in March.
DeSantis is also expected to sign bills during this two-month legislative session, including: ending requirements for carrying a firearm permit, making it easier to enforce the death penalty on criminals, and requiring companies to use E-Verify, a web-based system administered by the Department of Homeland Security, to confirm that an employee has legal status in the US before hiring.
Famously, the session also saw an increase in spending on a program that transports illegal migrants from Florida to Democratic enclave states and sanctuary cities.
DeSantis also wants to cut taxes in the state by $2 billion.
Frost is the first Gen Z legislator elected to the United States Congress. He represents a blue oasis in a sea of red in Orlando, Florida, where Walt Disney World sits