Gov.-elect DeSan­tis picks two ri­vals

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY LAWRENCE MOWER

In choos­ing the men — a fiery GOP ed­u­ca­tion re­former and a Demo­crat — who were once his ri­vals, the in­com­ing gov­er­nor sig­nals a marked change from the cam­paign trail, when he branded him­self as a stri­dent par­ti­san un­will­ing to com­pro­mise.

They are a fiery GOP ed­u­ca­tion re­former and a Demo­crat.

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE — Flor­ida Gov.-elect Ron DeSan­tis wants for­mer state House Speaker Richard Cor­co­ran to be the state’s next ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sioner and Demo­cratic law­maker Jared Moskowitz to be the next di­rec­tor of the Di­vi­sion of Emer­gency Man­age­ment, his tran­si­tion team an­nounced Thurs­day.

Cor­co­ran, a fiery Pasco County Re­pub­li­can who has pushed hard for char­ter schools dur­ing his eight years in the Leg­is­la­ture, could be­come the “most dis­rup­tive ed­u­ca­tion re­former in our state’s his­tory,” for­mer Se­nate Pres­i­dent Don

Gaetz said.

Moskowitz, a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive from deep-blue Broward County, has since 2009 worked for AshBritt En­vi­ron­men­tal, the large Deer­field Beach com­pany that spe­cial- izes in dis­as­ter cleanups and of­ten is con­tracted by the state.

In choos­ing two men who were once his ri­vals, DeSan­tis sig­nals a marked change from the cam­paign trail, when the Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trumpen­dorsed can­di­date branded him­self as a stri­dent par­ti­san un­will­ing to com­pro­mise.

Dur­ing the pri­mary, Cor­co­ran en­dorsed Re­pub­li­can Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Adam Put­nam, call­ing DeSan­tis “a bull­dog mouth, a chi­huahua a--, and he doesn’t even know what the heck is go­ing on in this state.”

And Moskowitz was a strong sup­porter of DeSan­tis’ Demo­cratic op­po­nent, An­drew Gil­lum, ad­dress­ing DeSan­tis di­rectly af­ter racist robo­calls from neo-Nazis about Gil­lum went out to Tal­la­has­see res­i­dents.

“This is sim­ple. Draft a press re­lease, with your name at­tached to the quote in­stead of a spokesman that reads, ‘I con­demn these robo­calls,’ ” Moskowitz’s state­ment to DeSan­tis read. “If you are not ca­pa­ble of that, then I sug­gest list­ing an in-kind con­tri­bu­tion from the Nazi Party on your next cam­paign fi­nance re­port.”

But while Democrats praised the Moskowitz pick, ad­vo­cates for im­prov­ing pub­lic schools re­acted in hor­ror to Cor­co­ran, urg­ing peo­ple to con­tact the State Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, which would have to ap­prove DeSan­tis’ pick.

“Richard Cor­co­ran may be the worst pos­si­ble can­di­date to lead Flor­ida’s De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion,” Flor­ida Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Fedrick In­gram told the Times/Her­ald this week.

None of the mem­bers of the board re­sponded to a re­quest for com­ment. Board Chair Marva John­son, in a state­ment re­leased by DeSan­tis’ cam­paign, said she looked for­ward to “re­view­ing” the Cor­co­ran rec­om­men­da­tion.

“He has the knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to en­sure con­tin­ued suc­cess at the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and to pro­tect Flor­ida’s le­gacy as a na­tional leader in ed­u­ca­tion,” John­son said of Cor­co­ran.

Cor­co­ran — whose wife runs a Pasco char­ter school — had more power over pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion dur­ing his last two years as House Speaker, where he ad­vanced char­ter schools through pro­grams like “Schools of Hope,” which cleared the path for state-ap­proved providers to bring schools into com­mu­ni­ties where dis­trict cam­puses have fared poorly.

“Richard is known as a nonon­sense re­former whose sole fo­cus has been how best to sup­port stu­dents, par­ents and teach­ers,” DeSan­tis said in a state­ment. “Casey (DeSan­tis) and I be­lieve that the fu­ture of our chil­dren and the fu­ture of all Flor­ida’s chil­dren de­pend on our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.”

Moskowitz, whose dis­trict in­cludes Park­land, ad­vo­cated heav­ily for the gun-con­trol bill that sprang out of the mas­sacre at Ma­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School dur­ing the past leg­isla­tive ses­sion. He’d been ru­mored for weeks to helm the agency that over­sees the state’s re­sponse to hur­ri­canes and other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

DeSan­tis said Flor­ida will be “well served” with Moskowitz lead­ing the state’s emer­gency re­sponse.

“We know Rep. Moskowitz will con­tinue to be an ef­fec­tive leader that looks out for all Florid­i­ans in times of emer­gen­cies, and we are proud of his ap­point­ment!” Flor­ida Demo­cratic Party Chair Ter­rie Rizzo said in a state­ment.



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