The Florida Capitol. Credit: Michael Moline
GOP state leaders are utilizing social media for their 2022 campaign efforts to promote conservative policies that they say have helped Florida to recover from COVID-19 and protect Floridians’ freedoms — though Democrats disagree.
The Florida House Republican Campaign Committee on Monday launched a digital ad campaign that was released via YouTube called “Firewall for Freedom,” featuring 17 Republican state lawmakers in the Florida House.
In the nearly two-minute video, those House members touted GOP ideals and issues supported by their party that gained traction in the 2021 legislative session, such as the controversial anti-protest bill, voting reforms, and reopening public schools amid the pandemic.
During a press briefing following the ad launch, state Rep. Paul Renner, the committee’s chairman, said that policies and legislation backed by GOP lawmakers in the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis have resulted in “safer streets, better education,” and a “more resilient economy.” Renner also praised Gov. Ron DeSantis for his handling of the state’s response to the pandemic.
The Florida Phoenix has previously written about DeSantis opening up Florida earlier than other states for businesses, which would boost the state’s economy. He refused to do any more lockdowns that would keep people inside their homes. He would not issue a statewide mask mandate. He also pushed for schoolchildren to learn in traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms instead of online learning at home.
That said, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over; COVID cases continues to rise and less than 50 percent of residents in Florida have been vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Democrats are critical of policies pushed by Republicans, claiming that many of those GOP measures have threatened the lives of Floridians and discriminated against certain groups including minority voters and the LGBTQ community.
“The Republican Party of Florida tout’s freedom as their rallying cry and yet way too many Floridians are just trying to survive and are still yearning to breathe free,” state Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, said in an email to the Florida Phoenix.
Renner also said that, “We will continue to look for candidates who are diverse and represent our values.” Renner, an attorney, represents Flagler County and parts of St. Johns and Volusia counties in the Legislature.
According to the House Campaign Committee press release, the digital ad will be shared on other social media platforms such as Facebook, and Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee on Monday denounced several bills passed in statehouses across the nation in July including Florida, as part of a “radical right-wing agenda” to prioritize “extremist laws” to engage the Republican base, according to a press release.
For instance, DLCC pointed to the bill that banned transgender girls from playing youth sports in Florida as an “attack on transgender Americans.”
“The Republican Party continues to erase the daily struggles of Floridians, people who are living in dire circumstances because state leaders have prioritized individual profits over everyday lives. Yes, freedom is a foundational American value. But that should apply to freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom to live life as your authentic self, freedom to access clean air and water, freedom with tax relief,” Rep. Eskamani said.
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