DeSantis signs bill renaming FL road after Rush Limbaugh, but some Dems couldn’t honor a ‘racist’

By: - May 31, 2023 11:08 am

The late Rush Limbaugh, at right, walks with former President Donald Trump. Credit: Official White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation that will rename a road in Central Florida’s Hernando County after the late conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, though some Democratic lawmakers said they couldn’t support a bill to honor a man they described as being ‘racist.’

Nevertheless, as of July 1, a stretch of U.S. 41 and State Road 50 in Hernando County will now be dubbed “Rush Limbaugh Way.” Hernando is on the Gulf side of the peninsula.

As originally filed by Brevard County House Republican Tyler Sirois, the bill (HB 21) was initially designed to rename a newly constructed bridge in Brevard County known as the NASA Causeway after Sally Ride, who in 1983 became the first American woman in space. In its final version approved by the Legislature, the measure renames roads or bridges after 22 people.

Those include officers killed in the line of duty, an archbishop, an astronaut, teachers, and other people.

The Senate measure was sponsored by Central Florida Republican Blaise Ingoglia, a close ally of the governor.

“Rush Limbaugh is an American icon, having inspired me, as well as tens of millions of Americans, to get involved in politics,” Ingoglia said in a statement issued earlier this year.

Limbaugh died in Feb. 2021 at his Palm Beach home from complications from lung cancer at the age of 70. A Republican, he was considered one of the most influential conservatives in America, and was named to the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993. He was also extremely controversial for his opinions, a few of which were referenced by Democrats when the bill was debated on the House floor during the last week of session in early May.

During the 2023 legislative session, Orlando Democrat Rep. Bruce Antone said that while he intended to vote for the bill, the provision of the proposal renaming a street after Limbaugh disturbed him.

“I started listening to Rush Limbaugh in 1991, during [the] Desert Storm war. The machine guns, the ‘feminazis,’ the racist remarks he made over the years. I just got a real problem with designating a road after a racist.”

Orange County Democratic Rep. Rita Harris was a co-sponsor of the measure when it was just about renaming a bridge after Sally Ride, but said she couldn’t vote for the measure with the inclusion of Limbaugh. She then recited a particularly provocative quote by him.

“Someone who said ‘I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite. Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back, I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark,’” Harris said before adding, “we’re going to honor this man? Nah.”

“I can’t believe that we’re honoring a racist,” said Jacksonville Democrat Rep. Angie Nixon. “And you all wonder why we get up here, many of us don’t want to break bread with you all, because you want to support and endorse racism!”

The measure was approved 38-2 in the Senate, and 87-25 in the House.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.

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