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‘I Will Not Remain Silent’: Former Dem Mayor of Large Florida County Endorses DeSantis

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis got a huge campaign boost this week in his reelection bid from an unlikely source.

Palm Beach County Commissioner David Kerner, a Democrat who used to serve as mayor of the county, the third-largest blue enclave in Florida, announced this week he will campaign daily until Election Day on behalf of DeSantis, who is running for a second term.

“Every day until November 8, I will campaign for Governor DeSantis and on November 8, I will vote for Governor DeSantis. And today, I proudly endorse Governor Ron DeSantis for re-election as the Governor of the great state of Florida,” Kerner said Wednesday.

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“As an aside, Governor, I am very proud that you felt that my endorsement was worthy of acceptance. And I’m so delighted that we’ve had this opportunity to be here in public with the community to make it official,” he added at a press conference.

“This was not a difficult choice for me. This was not the proverbial lesser of two evils. Governor DeSantis has demonstrated himself beyond worthy of the humbling duties of this office,” Kerner continued.

“And he has done so with the level of dignity, purpose, and respect that is lost in the public sphere today. It may come as a shock to many of you, or at least many of my friends that as a Democratic elected officer in deep blue Palm Beach County, I’m endorsing a Republican governor,” he said.

“But I will not remain silent. There is too much on the line in this election. The governor’s Democratic opponent has already started talking about reallocation, which to me, by the way, is a code word for taking resources away from the men and women that protect us. It’s a code word for defunding the police,” Kerner continued.

“Florida is a proud state, one with a deep history. The beauty of our state is represented in the diversity of our environment and the diversity of our people. But no doubt we are a state on the rise. And I give a lot of credit to our governor for the trajectory of our state,” he concluded.

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DeSantis heartily accepted the endorsement and responded later on Twitter.

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“In Florida, we support law enforcement, reject the anti-police movement, and focus on justice for victims — not coddling criminals,” he said. “Democrat and former police officer @DavidMKerner stands for the rule of law. Thankful to receive his endorsement today in West Palm Beach!”

Kerner came to DeSantis’ defense early in the pandemic and pushed back on a CBS News report that insinuated the governor was involved in a sort of ‘pay-for-play’ scheme with grocery chain Publix, awarding the company a contract to distribute vaccines following a campaign contribution.

At the time, DeSantis said that Publix was chosen because the chain had a number of stores located in strategic areas of highest need, and Kerner backed up that defense.

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“The reporting was not just based on bad information — it was intentionally false. I know this because I offered to provide my insight into Palm Beach County’s vaccination efforts but 60 Minutes declined,” Kerner said at the time.

“That’s a fake narrative,” DeSantis responded to a question about the alleged scheme during a press conference. “I met with the county mayor, I met with the administrator, I met with all the folks at Palm Beach County and I said, ‘Here’s some of the options: We can do more drive-through sites, we can give more to hospitals, we can do the Publix.’ And they said, ‘We think that would be the easiest thing for our residents.”

He added that Publix, with over 800 stores in the state, many with pharmacies, was the “first one to raise their hand” to proclaim they could easily handle distributing the vaccines.

Jared Moskowitz, the state’s emergency management director who is also a Democrat, pushed back on the CBS News report as well, calling it “bullshit.”

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In a statement to Fox News, the broadcast network said that “we spoke to State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz twice, but he declined to be interviewed on camera for our story until well after our deadline. The idea we ignored their perspective is untrue.”

He responded: “I did speak with @60Minutes. Never said I didn’t. They were very nice, but I told them that the @publixstory was ‘bullsh**’. Walked them through the whole process. The fact that I didn’t sit down on ‘camera’ because I am responding to a 100 year emergency doesn’t change the truth.”

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