25 Florida school board candidates who were backed by Gov. DeSantis win in primary election
TAMPA, Fla. - Governor Ron DeSantis ran unopposed during Tuesday's Florida primary election, but he's celebrating a major victory. After throwing his support behind dozens of school board candidates, the majority of them won, including a few in Tampa Bay.
DeSantis sees this as an overwhelming sign that his education agenda is popular in a lot of Florida's school districts.
The governor endorsed 30 candidates across Florida, and 25 of those candidates won in the primary election.
"Parents are sick of the nonsense when it comes to education," Governor DeSantis said.
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The governor's impact may have been felt the most in Sarasota County schools. DeSantis backed three candidates, and all three won, including Bridget Ziegler and Robyn Marinelli.
"I think that with governor decision to shine a light on the school boards, you know, the reality is, is that you had people across the country and in the state who are engaged and aware that were fed up," Ziegler said.
The victories in Sarasota shifted the political structure of the school board, which will now lean Republican.
"I think it sends a very clear message that our community was tired of what was going on," Marinelli said.
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Critics said the governor should leave partisan politics out of the schools. Damaris Allen lost her race in Hillsborough County to DeSantis-backed incumbent Stacy Hahn.
She's concerned candidates had to fill out a survey before receiving a DeSantis endorsement to ensure they agreed with his education agenda.
"His endorsement comes with strings attached," Allen said. "So basically, anyone who gets his endorsement has to sign on and say, I will uphold your education agenda."
Politics aside, these candidates said they're ready to put their focus back where it belongs.
"We know who we serve, we know what we're there to do. And it's truly all about our students," Ziegler said.
Governor DeSantis said he's the first to endorse local school board races. He does believe other governors will do the same.