Charlie Crist makes it official, announces Karla Hernandez as running mate

Gubernatorial candidate chooses former Teacher of the Year as pick for Lieutenant Governor

Democratic candidate for Florida governor, Charlie Crist, walks off stage during a Democratic unity rally at The View at Colony West on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022 in Tamarac, Fla. (John McCall, John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Democrat Charlie Crist on Saturday tapped Miami-Dade County teachers union president Karla Hernandez as his running mate as he challenges Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s next gubernatorial election.

“It’s time to send a teacher of the year to Tallahassee. Karla’s story is a Florida story – a first-generation American who dedicated her life to service, she became a Miami-Dade public school teacher, and a fierce defender of working Floridians and a woman’s right to choose,” Crist said in a statement.

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Hernandez was selected as Hialeah Middle School’s Teacher of the Year in 2010.

Crist, a congressman who served as the state’s Republican governor a decade ago, announced United Teachers of Dade President Hernandez as his pick at a rally in Miami.

The selection of Hernandez ensures a Crist campaign focus on education, an arena where DeSantis has had considerable success in animating his conservative base through his hands-off approach to the coronavirus pandemic and policies limiting classroom discussions of race and LGBTQ issues.

Hernandez advocated delaying students’ return to school in the fall of 2020 and continuing mask mandates in 2021, in defiance of DeSantis’ administration.

She is the daughter of two Honduran immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1970s and was the first Hispanic to be elected to lead the United Teachers of Dade in 2016.

“I am deeply honored to be joining this ticket — it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to fight for Floridians as their next Lieutenant Governor,” said Hernandez “Like Charlie, I come from a family of immigrants, and have been blessed by the opportunity of the American Dream right here in Florida.

Crist secured the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday after defeating state agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried.

The Associated Press contributed to this report,

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About the Authors:

Jacob joined in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.